For many home chefs, garlic is a favorite spice to cook with thanks to its pungent taste and aroma. It works especially well in stews, sauces, pizzas, and pasta dishes.

This powerful ingredient is linked to several health benefits due to its medicinal properties. However, despite its versatility and health benefits, some garlic lovers wonder if it’s possible to go overboard (1).

This article examines the research to determine whether you can eat too much garlic.

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Although garlic is a healthy addition to a balanced diet, eating too much may cause several side effects.

Increased risk of bleeding

One of the most serious side effects of eating too much garlic is an increased risk of bleeding, especially if you’re taking blood thinners or undergoing surgery.

This is because garlic has antithrombotic properties, meaning that it may prevent blood clots from forming (2).

Although garlic-induced bleeding is uncommon, one report detailed a case in which a person experienced increased bleeding after they regularly ate 12 grams of garlic — approximately 4 cloves — per day before surgery (3).

In another case study, a person experienced excessive discoloration and bruising after surgery. The possible cause was a dietary supplement the person had been taking, which contained fish oil and 10 mg of garlic concentrate, both of which affect blood clot formation (4).

Thus, it’s important to talk with your healthcare professional before using garlic supplements. If you’re taking any medications or set to have surgery, you should also consult a healthcare professional before adding garlic to your diet.

Garlic breath

Garlic contains a variety of sulfur compounds, which are often credited with its many health benefits (1).

However, these compounds may cause bad breath, especially when eaten in large amounts. This is especially true for raw garlic, as cooking decreases the content of these beneficial sulfur compounds (5, 6).

Still, you can try several home remedies to get rid of garlic breath.

Digestive issues

Like onions, leeks, and asparagus, garlic is high in fructans, a type of carb that may cause bloating, gas, and stomach pain in some people (7).

In fact, when those with a fructan intolerance eat a high fructan food, it isn’t fully absorbed in the small intestine. Instead, it travels to the colon intact and is fermented in your gut, a process that may contribute to digestive issues (7).

As such, people following a low FODMAP diet — an elimination diet intended to identify specific foods that trigger digestive issues — are often encouraged to limit their garlic intake (8).

Heartburn

If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you may want to consider lowering your garlic intake.

GERD is a common condition that occurs when stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn and nausea (9).

Garlic may decrease lower esophageal sphincter (LES) tone, which is the ability of the muscles at the bottom of your esophagus to close and prevent acid from entering. In turn, this may trigger acid reflux (10).

However, certain foods affect people with GERD differently. If you find that eating a lot of garlic doesn’t cause symptoms, it’s likely unnecessary to limit your intake (11).

Summary

Eating large amounts of garlic may cause garlic breath, digestive issues, and heartburn. In rare instances, it may increase your risk of bleeding, particularly during surgery or if you’re taking blood thinners.

Although no official recommendations exist for how much garlic you should eat, studies show that eating 1–2 cloves (3–6 grams) per day may have health benefits (1).

If you notice any side effects after eating more than this amount, consider reducing your intake.

Cooking garlic before eating it may also help prevent side effects like garlic breath, digestive issues, and acid reflux (11).

If you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications, it’s best to talk with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or using any herbal supplements.

Summary

Although there are no official guidelines for how much garlic is too much, it’s best to stick to a few cloves per day and decrease your intake if you notice any side effects. Cooking it may also help prevent side effects.

Garlic is highly nutritious and associated with a variety of health benefits.

However, if you eat too much of it, it may cause side effects like bad breath, acid reflux, digestive issues, and an increased risk of bleeding.

Therefore, it’s best to enjoy this delicious spice in moderation and reduce your intake if you start to experience any adverse effects.