Saturday, January 31, 2009

First Study Shows how Allicin in Garlic Benefits Health

Garlic has been touted for its benefits on health for centuries. Results of a new study reveals the real health benefit of garlic comes from allicin, the compound in garlic that makes it so pungent.

The new study comes from Queen's Chemistry professor Derek Pratt, Canada Research Chair in Free Radical Chemistry. According to Dr. Pratt, “We didn’t understand how garlic could contain such an efficient antioxidant, since it didn’t have a substantial amount of the types of compounds usually responsible for high antioxidant activity in plants, such as the flavanoids found in green tea or grapes. If allicin was indeed responsible for this activity in garlic, we wanted to find out how it worked.”

The scientists discovered that allicin decomposes to form sulfenic acid, the substance that reacts with free radicals. Sulfenic acid is the substance produced by allicin found in garlic that provides the health benefits.

Dr. Pratt says,” I think we have taken the first step in uncovering a fundamental chemical mechanism which may explain garlic’s medicinal benefits.” Until now, no one has known exactly why garlic has health benefits.

The researchers also found that garlic outperformed other related vegetables for health benefits in the study. Onions, leeks, and shallots did not have the same antioxidant power and medicinal qualities as garlic.

The authors surmise that allicin is more readily decomposed to form sulfenic acid when we consume garlic, versus other related vegetables. The result is greater health benefits from higher levels of antioxidants.

The new study show garlic and garlic supplements really do have health benefits that we can now understand.

We know garlic can benefit health – now we know why. Garlic provides a super antioxidant effect from sulfenic acid, a compound formed from the decomposition of allicin.

Queen’s chemist sheds light on health benefits of garlic