Garlic vs. Ginger — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Ginger and garlic, widely used as aromatics in cooking, have small serving sizes. Hence, their nutritional differences are not significant when put in the context of daily nutrient needs.
Nevertheless, garlic contains 2 times more calories and carbs and 3 times more protein. Garlic also provides relatively more vitamins and minerals than ginger. It contains around 8 times more vitamin B6 and vitamin B1, 6 times more vitamin C, 3 times more vitamin B5, as well as 7 times more manganese and 20 times more selenium.
Studies have shown that ginger has a higher antioxidant capacity when compared to garlic. It also provides antiemetic properties, while garlic does not.
Additionally, research links garlic consumption to allergies, whereas ginger demonstrates potential antiallergic properties.
Table of contents
- General Information
- Historical Use
- Weight Loss
- Health Benefits
- Downsides and Risks
In this article, we will explore the differences between garlic and ginger, focusing on their nutritional composition and health benefit variations.
Ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, which also includes turmeric and cardamom (1). Meanwhile, garlic belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family, which includes onions, chives, and leeks (2).
The active biological compounds in ginger include gingerols, shogaols, and paradols (3). Meanwhile, garlic's sulfur compounds are of great chemical importance (4).
Garlic tastes pungent, while ginger is warmly spicy. Both are widely used aromatics during cooking.
Garlic has been used since ancient times to treat a variety of ailments. Historically, garlic was given to Egyptian laborers to increase their strength and productivity (5). It was also given to the Olympic athletes before the games to boost performance (6).
Meanwhile, ginger has been used in ancient Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Unani medicine to treat ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatism, pains, cramps, constipation, indigestion, vomiting, dementia, fever, and infectious diseases (7, 8, 9).
The nutritional values used in this article are for raw garlic and raw ginger root.
Macronutrients and Calories
Both garlic and ginger have similar serving sizes. The serving size of garlic is usually one clove, weighing 3 grams, while for ginger, it is one teaspoon, weighing 2 grams.
That said, it is important to note that a single serving of garlic or ginger does not provide any significant amounts of nutrients to fill up the daily need. However, it is still important to consider their differences in composition, as both garlic and ginger are commonly added to meals during cooking.
Garlic and ginger have vastly different macronutrient compositions. As you can see from the graphs below, garlic is more nutrient-dense, consisting of 59% of water, while ginger consists of 79% of water.
Garlic has around 2 times more calories than ginger. However, they are both safe to consume during low-calorie diets since a single serving of garlic or ginger is only 2-3 grams; hence, the calories they provide are negligible.
Garlic also contains 2 times more carbs than ginger. Again, when put in the context of daily carbohydrate intake, a single serving of garlic and ginger provides no significant amounts of carbs. Hence, they are both safe to consume during low-carb diets.
Both foods are very low or devoid of saturated fats and cholesterol.
Even though the levels of fats are extremely low, we can still compare their fat-type compositions. As shown in the graphic below, the fat in garlic is made of mostly polyunsaturated fat, while the most prevalent fat type in ginger is saturated fat.
Fat Type Comparison
Garlic is also around 3 times higher in protein content when compared to ginger. Neither ginger nor garlic are considered high-protein foods; however, they can be used as aromatics while cooking high-protein meals such as chicken or beef.
While comparing the vitamin compositions of garlic and ginger, it is evident that garlic is the winner in this category.
Garlic contains around 8 times more vitamin B6 and vitamin B1, 6 times more vitamin C, and 3 times more vitamin B5, although a single serving only contains negligible amounts of these vitamins.
Garlic is also the winner in this category.
Garlic contains 7 times more manganese, 20 times more selenium, as well as more calcium, iron, copper, and phosphorus; however, a single serving contains only negligible amounts of these minerals.
The glycemic index is a rating system used for foods containing carbohydrates. As both garlic and ginger contain very few carbohydrates, their glycemic index is low, which means their consumption has minimal effect on blood sugar levels.
One way to understand the acidity of foods is through their potential renal acid load (PRAL) value, which shows how much acid or base the given food produces inside the organism.
Based on our calculations, the PRAL values of ginger and garlic are -7.9 and -2.6, respectively, which means that ginger has a greater potential to alkalize the body.
A meta-analysis conducted in 2019 showed that the intake of ginger reduced weight, waist-hip ratio, hip ratio, and fasting glucose while increasing HDL-cholesterol (the good cholesterol) in overweight and obese individuals. However, it did not affect body mass index or insulin (10).
On the other hand, another meta-analysis showed that garlic supplementation reduces waist circumference but not body weight or body mass index (11).
Garlic is known to be beneficial for cardiovascular diseases. Studies suggest that garlic extract helps lower blood pressure and may be used as a hypertension treatment (12).
Garlic also has antilipidemic and antithrombotic effects (13, 14, 15).
Ginger is also known to have cardioprotective properties. It has anti-hypertensive, anti-hyperlipidemia, and anti-platelet effects (16).
Compared to garlic, and in addition to these cardiovascular effects, it has been shown that ginger may reduce abnormalities in diabetic cardiomyopathic patients (17). Moreover, ginger acts as a cardiotonic that increases the efficiency of heart contraction and improves blood flow throughout the body (16).
Studies showed that garlic has an anti-tumor effect primarily attributed to its bioactive compounds (18, 19). However, heating destroys the active compound in garlic, which is responsible for its anti-cancer properties (20).
In the "Iowa Women's Health Study," garlic was the only food out of 127 food items that showed a significant association with decreased colon cancer risk (21).
Gingerol, an active ingredient found in ginger, also inhibited the growth of human colorectal cancer cells (22).
Gingerol showed to inhibit skin tumor promotion (23). Meanwhile, a study mentioned the importance of considering the application of garlic in the chemoprevention of skin cancer (24).
Antioxidants are scavengers of free radicals found in the body that protect the body from cell damage.
Both ginger and garlic have antioxidant effects. However, ginger was found to have the highest antioxidant potency, followed by dry garlic and fresh garlic (25). The antioxidant capacity was comparable to that of vitamin C.
A study showed that ginger and garlic are insulinotropic rather than hypoglycemic and that the anti-diabetic effects of ginger are much higher than those of garlic (26).
This study also suggests that higher anti-diabetic effects may be obtained when consuming a normal diet instead of a high-fat diet.
On the other hand, the active ingredient in garlic may be beneficial in treating erectile dysfunction in diabetic patients (27).
Ginger has antiemetic effects. It has implications for treating nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy and chemotherapy (28).
Meanwhile, garlic consumption is viewed as a possible cause of gastrointestinal adverse effects and mild nausea (29).
A study showed that garlic is a fast, cheap, and efficient topical treatment for a type of hair loss called alopecia areata (30). Moreover, the study mentioned that this treatment has no side effects.
A lot of shampoos containing ginger extracts are being produced nowadays. These shampoos claim to induce hair growth and stop hair loss. However, scientific evidence revealed that 6-gingerol, an active compound found in ginger, can suppress human hair shaft elongation (31).
The topical application of raw garlic may be associated with adverse effects (32). The most common adverse effects include burns, contact dermatitis, and asthma, although they are rare (32, 33).
On the other hand, ginger has been shown to suppress symptoms of rhinitis due to its anti-inflammatory and antiallergic properties (34).
Downsides and Risks
The most common side effects of garlic topical use and consumption are a pungent smell in the breath and body odor, indigestion, and flatulence (35). Meanwhile, no side effects related to ginger have been documented (36).
- Phytochemistry and pharmacology of plants from the ginger family, Zingiberaceae
- Garlic: A Review of Its Medicinal Effects and Indicated Active Compounds
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
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|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.
- Garlic - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169230/nutrients
- Ginger - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169231/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.