Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chemists Shed Light On Health Benefits Of Garlic

Date:
January 31, 2009
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
Researchers have widely believed that the organic compound, allicin -- which gives the pungent vegetable its aroma and flavor -- acts as an antioxidant. But until now it hasn't been clear how allicin works, or how it stacks up compared to more common antioxidants such as Vitamin E and coenzyme Q10, which stop the damaging effects of radicals. Researchers now trace benefits to acid produced in the decomposing organic compound.

Garlic. Chemists have discovered the reason why garlic is so good for us.
Credit: iStockphoto/Jorge Farres Sanchez

A Queen's-led team has discovered the reason why garlic is so good for us.

Researchers have widely believed that the organic compound, allicin – which gives garlic its aroma and flavour – acts as the world's most powerful antioxidant. But until now it hasn't been clear how allicin works, or how it stacks up compared to more common antioxidants such as Vitamin E and coenzyme Q10, which stop the damaging effects of radicals.

"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," says Chemistry professor Derek Pratt, who led the study. "If allicin was indeed responsible for this activity in garlic, we wanted to find out how it worked."

The research team questioned the ability of allicin to trap damaging radicals so effectively, and considered the possibility that a decomposition product of allicin may instead be responsible. Through experiments with synthetically-produced allicin, they found that an acid produced when the compound decomposes rapidly reacts with radicals.

Their findings are published in the January 2009 issue of the international chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie.

"Basically the allicin compound has to decompose in order to generate a potent antioxidant," explains Dr. Pratt, who is Canada Research Chair in Free Radical Chemistry. "The reaction between the sulfenic acid and radicals is as fast as it can get, limited only by the time it takes for the two molecules to come into contact. No one has ever seen compounds, natural or synthetic, react this quickly as antioxidants."

The researcher is confident that a link exists between the reactivity of the sulfenic acid and the medicinal benefits of garlic. "While garlic has been used as a herbal medicine for centuries and there are many garlic supplements on the market, until now there has been no convincing explanation as to why garlic is beneficial," says Dr. Pratt. "I think we have taken the first step in uncovering a fundamental chemical mechanism which may explain garlic's medicinal benefits."

Along with onions, leeks and shallots, garlic is a species in the family Alliaceae. All of these other plants contain a compound that is very similar to allicin, but they do not have the same medicinal properties. Dr. Pratt and his colleagues believe that this is due to a slower rate of decomposition of the allicin analogs in the onions, leaks and shallots, which leads to a lower level of sulfenic acid available to react as antioxidants with radicals.

The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Ontario Ministry of Innovation. Other members of the research team are Queen's Chemistry post-doctoral researcher Vipraja Vaidya and Keith Ingold, from the National Research Council of Canada.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Queen's University. "Chemists Shed Light On Health Benefits Of Garlic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090130154901.htm>.
Queen's University. (2009, January 31). Chemists Shed Light On Health Benefits Of Garlic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090130154901.htm
Queen's University. "Chemists Shed Light On Health Benefits Of Garlic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090130154901.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nike fired most of its Digital Sport hardware team, the group behind Nike's FuelBand device. Could Apple or an overcrowded market be behind layoffs? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins