Is Garlic Bread Good For You?

Garlic bread is a delicious food that pairs well with italian food and many other delicious foods. You can prepare it a lot of different ways, and some are healthier than others. Some preparations, like those that use whole wheat bread, have more health benefits than others. Some garlic bread offers health benefits like a lot of fiber, as well as the immune boosting support from garlic. 

As is the case for every food– especially foods with a high carbohydrate content– moderation is the key for maintaining your health. You should also try to eat a balanced diet rich in nutritious foods like fruits and veggies, but with plenty of carbs as well. If you’re curious about how you can improve your diet, speak with a licensed dietician or physician about which foods are good for you. 

What Is Garlic Bread?

Garlic bread is a delicious food that is made with a few simple ingredients: garlic, bread, butter or oil, and seasoning. You can add your own twist by using your own spices or selecting a specific type of bread that you like. 

To make garlic bread, combine the butter or oil with the seasoning and the mashed garlic, and spread onto your bread. Then bake it all in the oven and enjoy the delicious, toasty, garlicky goodness. 

Some people love adding cheese to garlic bread, but that is a personal preference that is completely up to you. 

Where Does Garlic Bread Come From?

Originally, garlic bread started out as something called bruschetta. Although bruschetta is still around today, it’s different than the bruschetta that inspired garlic bread. The ancient roman bruschetta was simply toasted bread drizzled with oil and salt and rubbed with fresh garlic. 

Modern bruschetta is topped with diced tomatoes and basil or other herbs, but it differs from garlic bread not only because it has tomatoes, but also because the topping of bruschetta is uncooked. Interestingly enough, modern bruschetta doesn’t even descend from traditional, historical bruschetta. It actually “evolved” from ancient Roman flatbread, which was topped with herbs, salt, and olive oil. 

Modern garlic bread has also evolved to use butter instead of olive oil, and the reason is pretty interesting. When four million Italians immigrated to America between 1880 and 1924, they brought with them the recipes from their homeland. Many sought to remind themselves of home through their delicious dishes, but they found that America didn’t have access to the same ingredients that Italy did at the time. 

One of those ingredients was olive oil, which was a main component of garlic bread. Looking for a suitable alternative, they landed on butter, and the switch stuck. In Italy they still eat the traditional bruschetta version of garlic bread,  and the butter-based American-Italian garlic bread we know and love remains a delicacy all its own. 

What Are the Health Benefits of Garlic Bread?

As with most things that are delicious (and most things in general), it’s best to consume garlic bread in moderation. While the various components of garlic bread do offer health benefits, there is also a high fat content that can lead to weight gain and other health problems if you consume too much or too often. 

Health Benefits of Garlic

When it comes to health benefits of garlic bread, the garlic itself is truly the star of the show. For centuries garlic has been used by people to prevent illness, treat symptoms, and keep themselves healthy. 

  • Garlic is packed with vitamins – garlic is rich in vitamins and minerals, including manganese, iron, potassium, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium and a few other minerals as well.
  • Strengthens your immune system – thanks to vitamins and minerals, garlic is known for helping you strengthen your immune system and fight off things like colds and flus. 
  • Lowers blood pressure – when taken in large doses, garlic has been shown to help with hypertension and lower blood pressure. 
  • Lowers LDL cholesterol levels – garlic is also capable of lowering your cholesterol levels.
  • Can increase your life longevity – although it’s medically difficult to measure life longevity, scientists still believe that regularly consuming garlic can positively change your health and increase your life expectancy. 
  • Fights dementia and Alzheimer’s – garlic’s antioxidant properties protect the brain’s cells from damage and aging.
  • Detoxifies your body – Garlic can even protect your body against heavy metal toxicity thanks to the sulfur compounds present in it. 

Health Benefits of Whole Wheat Bread

If you use whole wheat bread for your garlic bread instead of white bread, you’re able to enjoy significantly more health benefits. The difference between the two comes down to the flour used to make the bread. White bread uses refined flour which lacks many of the nutrients present in the wheat used to make whole wheat bread. Here are some of the nutritional benefits of whole wheat bread:

  • Zinc – zinc aids in the function of your metabolism and immune system, and it helps your body heal wounds, too
  • Magnesium – magnesium plays a crucial role in muscle function, stress management, heart health, blood pressure, and digestion.
  • Fiber – fiber helps with digestion, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and may protect against colon and breast cancers among other diseases. 
  • Iron – the body needs iron for growth and development, and iron is also essential for your blood cells to carry enough oxygen throughout your body.
  • B Vitamins – B vitamins are important for eyesight, energy levels, digestion, nerve function, cell health, and much more.

Do you love making garlic bread and typically use white bread to make it? If so, simply switching the white bread out for whole wheat bread can introduce a ton of health benefits!

Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Although many of us have grown up thinking that fatty foods are “bad for health,” this actually isn’t necessarily the case. Olive oil– particularly extra virgin olive oil– has a lot of health benefits to offer, including:

  • High amounts of monounsaturated fats – monounsaturated fats are clinically shown to reduce inflammation and may even have a positive effect on cancer-causing genes according to some studies. 
  • May help prevent strokes and heart disease – the relationship between heart disease, strokes, and olive oil has been extensively examined through numerous scientific studies. All of these found that consuming olive oil was linked to a lower risk of having a stroke and a lower risk of heart disease.
  • Antioxidant-rich – olive oil is jam packed with antioxidants that can help reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases. In addition to that, these antioxidants have powerful inflammation fighting properties. 
  • Vitamin E – vitamin E is responsible for supporting your immune system and helping you maintain healthy skin and eyes. This vitamin is also helpful for brain function, reproduction, and blood cells.
  • Vitamin K – vitamin K helps you make the vital proteins responsible for helping your blood clot and your bones grow and strengthen. 
  • May fight Alzheimer’s – one of the substances present in olive oil has been shown to reduce beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. The buildup of these plaques is one of the key features of Alzheimer’s.
  • May reduce risk of Type 2 Diabetes – olive oil has been linked to positive effects on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. 
  • Antibacterial properties – many nutrients in olive oil can kill harmful bacteria.
  • Can help with Rheumatoid Arthritis – regularly consuming olive oil has been shown to help reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients. 

Is Garlic Bread Good for the Heart?

The answer to this again depends on the ingredients you use to make your garlic bread. As we established in the previous section, whole wheat garlic bread has more health benefits than white garlic bread. Additionally, garlic bread that’s made with olive oil is more heart healthy than garlic bread made with butter.

Butter contains saturated fats which are known to clog arteries and have a negative impact on heart health. Olive oil, on the other hand, contains unsaturated fats which are not artery clogging and are better for the heart. 

Is Garlic Bread Good for Cholesterol?

Again, this totally depends on the garlic bread in question. If you’re talking about the store-bought frozen garlic bread that’s packed with butter– then no, it’s probably not great for your cholesterol levels. In general, foods containing butter aren’t known for lowering cholesterol levels. 

That being said, olive oil is known to lower your cholesterol levels. That means if you make garlic bread with olive oil it will be better for your cholesterol than if it’s made with butter. Additionally, garlic is known to help manage high cholesterol levels, so if you pack on the garlic and keep the butter to a minimum the garlic bread will be better for your cholesterol. 

Is Garlic Bread Good for Weight Loss?

Garlic bread made with olive oil and whole wheat bread has significantly more health benefits than other types of garlic bread, but neither will necessarily aid in weight loss. Weight management is something that should be discussed with your physician or dietician, as they will have better insight into your personal health. 

Does Garlic Bread Make You Fat?

Although many people believe that there are certain foods that will make you fat, this isn’t really the case. In truth, weight gain is tied to caloric intake and caloric burn. If you consistently take in more calories than you burn, then you will undoubtedly gain weight. 

The good news here is that with a balanced lifestyle which considers diet and exercise you can enjoy any food you want to! It’s true that garlic bread is high in calories – one slice has 206 calories on average, but as long as you’re burning as many or more calories than you consume, you should be fine. 

Keep in mind that it’s always better to enjoy any food in moderation. 

Final Thoughts

Garlic bread is a truly delicious food with a very interesting history. The key ingredients in garlic bread also have a lot of health benefits. Garlic is packed with immune supporting vitamins and minerals, and whole wheat bread is significantly more nutritious than white bread. Even olive oil has a lot of health benefits to offer! As long as you enjoy it in moderation, garlic bread can be good for you, and it certainly isn’t bad for you!