View the latest articles in our RSS feed

Bad Breath For A Good Heart Bad Breath For A Good Heart

By Riaz Bhunnoo

Garlic is usually associated with keeping vampires at bay, your breath potent and your heart healthy. However, the reason for its heart health benefits has eluded scientists – until now.

Researchers at Alabama University have found that a chemical in garlic called allicin plays a key role in keeping your heart healthy.

When eaten, allicin breaks down to form the horrible smelling sulphurous compounds which give us that garlicy death-breath. These compounds, however, also interact with red blood cells to produce hydrogen sulphide, a gas that dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. Reduced blood pressure enables the blood to carry more oxygen to vital organs and eases pressure on the heart. Hydrogen sulphide is also thought to play a key role in helping cells to communicate with each other.

Researchers at Alabama University suspended blood vessels in crushed garlic juice and were astounded to see a 72% drop in tension within the blood vessels. They also found observed hydrogen sulphide being released from the mixture. The chemical reaction that leads to the gas’ formation takes place on the surface of blood cells.

The allicin molecule is key to garlic's best and worst traits.
Lead researcher, Dr David Kraus from Alabama University said: "Our results suggest garlic in the diet is a very good thing. Certainly in areas where garlic consumption is high, such as the Mediterranean and the Far East, there is a low incidence of cardiovascular disease."

Hydrogen sulphide is the gas responsible for the smell of rotten eggs, and experts warn that ingesting too much garlic could lead to obvious undesirable side effects.

All about Allicin

  • Allicin is a powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal compound which gives garlic its hot, burning flavour.
  • It isn’t present in garlic in its normal state. When garlic is chopped or otherwise damaged, the enzyme alliinase acts on the chemical alliin converting it into allicin. That’s why you should always crush or bruise garlic when using it to flavour your bolognaise.
  • Some tests have show allicin to be effective at combating arteriosclerosis.
Get more from Riaz, or follow these tasty links:

- Funny - Inorganic is inacceptible
- Big appetite - Black hole eats star
- Weird invention - Print out food
- Downright nasty - Top ten weird drinks

Your Say

The question is, what is removed when odorless garlic capsules are prepared, as this article would seem to imply that they would lose at least their purported cardiovascular benefits.

Return to the top »

Share this

Bookmark this article at Digg Bookmark this article at Bookmark this article at Slashdot Bookmark this article at StumbleUpon Email this article to a friend

Have Your Say:

Share your opinion:

Website by Bristol Developers and Lightenna Ltd