Can you eat the green part of garlic?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat the green part of garlic?” and discuss the risks and benefits of eating sprouted garlic.

Can you eat the green part of garlic?

Yes, you can eat the green part of garlic. When garlic is grown, the green section is the beginning of what would be the plant’s leaves. The leaves may be used in place of minced, chopped, or whole garlic in a variety of dishes.

Sprouting occurs during cold storage of garlic, which leads to changes in the sugar composition qualitatively and quantitatively which finally promotes its sprouting (2).

What are the benefits of eating the green part of a garlic?

Besides being safe to consume, sprouted garlic contains several antioxidant compounds, such as f L-tryptophan, 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan, and melatonin, indolic and phenolic compounds. Studies showed that the extracts from garlic sprouted for 5 days had the higher antioxidant activity when compared to extracts from non-sprouted garlic (3).

The sprouting of plant seeds usually promotes the de novo synthesis of bioactive compounds called phytoalexins that protect the plant from various exogenous insults. These phytochemicals that are produced due to sprouting have properties that improve health. The antioxidant capacity of garlic is enhanced by the sprouting (3).

According to studies, garlic contains isothiocyanates, which have anti-cancer properties, by promoting the detoxification of carcinogens. Antioxidants found in garlic, especially in the sprouted garlic, prevents the generation of hydroxyl radicals and significantly reduces the negative impact of oxidative stress (1).

In addition, sprouting of garlic improves its anti-inflammatory action. A study reported that in garlic sprout extracts, α-linolenic acid (ALA) was found to be in greater amounts (1).

Alpha-linolenic acid is a necessary fatty acid and is a precursor for the production of polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties of ALA have been demonstrated through both in vitro and in vivo studies. 

Additionally, the beneficial effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been confirmed through various observational and experimental studies. PUFAs play a crucial role in regulating the inflammatory response.

What are the risks of eating the green part of a garlic?

The risk of eating the green part of the garlic is to eat a more bitter food. Due to the higher concentration of polyphenols in the sprouting garlic, it tastes more bitter and more adstringent (3).

Generally, higher concentrations of phenolic compounds are found in sprouts and seedlings than in the mature plant, consistent with the notion that plant phenolics provide a degree of protection against predation (4).

In addition, the increased concentration of phenolic compounds in garlic sprouts are possible to possess toxic effects. Studies in vivo showed that garlic extracts of certain varieties were highly cytotoxic for human skin fibroblasts as they reduced their viability by 10–30 % in comparison to the control cells (5).

As a result, garlic extracts can be toxic to both normal and cancer cells. However, eating garlic and garlic sprouts in moderation will not be harmful to health. 

What is the best way to cook the green part of a garlic?

The best way to cook garlic sprout in order to retain the highest antioxidant properties is microwave cooking.

In a study, the effect of different methods of cooking in the reduction of the antioxidant properties of vegetables  were compared, namely boiling, pressure cooking, baking, frying and microwaving. 

By all these methods, the antioxidant activity of garlic was reduced by 50%, except by microwave cooking, where the antioxidant activity was preserved (6).

Why does garlic sprout?

Garlic sprouts when it is stored at low temperatures. The storage of garlic bulbs in a cold environment eliminates dormancy and stimulates sprouting. 

Garlic sprouting at low temperature is attributed to a complex of biochemical reactions which is carried out by interposition of different enzymes, causing sugar changes in garlic, qualitatively and quantitatively which finally promotes its sprouting (2). 

How to prevent garlic from sprouting?

Correct storage conditions of garlic can prevent them from sprouting. You should store garlic in a cold, dry, and well ventilated place. 

Temperatures between 60 and 65°F (15 and 18°C) in a mesh bag, paper bag, or ventilated basket. At lower temperatures below 50°F, the garlic may sprout. 

According to the USDA foodkeeper data online, unbroken garlic cloves can be stored for 1 month in the pantry, while whole individual cloves can be stored for 3 to 14 days in the refrigerator and for 1 month in the freezer. 

Other FAQs about Garlic that you may be interested in.

Can you substitute garlic powder for garlic?

How to counteract too much garlic?

How much minced garlic are two cloves?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat the green part of garlic?” and we discussed the risks and benefits of eating sprouted garlic.


  1. Gdula-Argasińska, Joanna, et al. Anti-inflammatory activities of garlic sprouts, a source of α-linolenic acid and 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan, in RAW 264.7 cells. Acta Biochim Polonica, 2017, 64, 551-559.
  2. Atashi, Sadegh, et al. Garlic physiological characteristics from harvest to sprouting in response to low temperature. J Stored Prod Postharv Res, 2011, 2, 285-291.
  3. Zakarova, Alexandra, et al. Garlic sprouting is associated with increased antioxidant activity and concomitant changes in the metabolite profile. J Agric Food Chem, 2014, 62, 1875-1880.
  4. Drewnowski, Adam, and Carmen Gomez-Carneros. Bitter taste, phytonutrients, and the consumer: a review. 1–3. Am J Clin Nutr, 2000, 72, 1424-35.
  5. Szychowski, Konrad A., et al. Characterization of Active Compounds of Different Garlic (Allium sativum L.) Cultivars. Polish j food nutr sci, 2017.
  6. Jiménez‐Monreal, A. M., et al. Influence of cooking methods on antioxidant activity of vegetables. J food sci, 2009, 74, H97-H103.