Washington: A team of researchers led by an Indian American has unearthed new evidence that freshly crushed garlic has more benefits for the heart than dried garlic.
The evidence challenges the widespread belief that most of garlic`s benefits are due to its rich array of anti-oxidants.
Instead, garlic`s heart-healthy effects seem to result mainly from hydrogen sulphide, a chemical signalling substance that forms after garlic is cut or crushed. It relaxes blood vessels when eaten.
Dipak K. Das, from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine (UCSM) and colleagues point out that raw crushed garlic generates hydrogen sulphide through a chemical reaction.
Although best known as the stuff that gives rotten eggs their distinctive odour, hydrogen sulphide also acts as a chemical messenger in the body, relaxing blood vessels and allowing more blood to pass through.
Processed and cooked garlic, however, loses its ability to generate hydrogen sulphide.
The scientists gave freshly crushed garlic and processed garlic to two groups of lab rats, and then studied how well the animals` hearts recovered from simulated heart attacks.
"Both crushed and processed garlic reduced damage from lack of oxygen, but the fresh garlic group had a significantly greater effect on restoring good blood flow in the aorta and increased pressure in the left ventricle of the heart," Das said.
The findings are slated for publication in the August issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Das got his master`s degree in chemistry at the University of Calcutta in 1967. He obtained his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of New York in 1977.