It has long been believed that the organic compound allicin, which gives garlic its characteristic aroma and flavor, acts as the world’s most powerful antioxidant. But until now it hasn’t been clear how allicin works, or how it compares to more common antioxidants such as vitamin E and coenzyme Q10.
.Garlic. Chemists have discovered the reason why garlic is so good for us. (Credit: iStockphoto/Jorge Farres Sanchez)
.A research team investigated whether allicin could be as effective as claimed. Through experiments with synthetically produced allicin, they found that sulfenic acid produced when the compound decomposes rapidly reacts with dangerous free radicals.
Researchers said that 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 other compound has been observed to react as an antioxidant so quickly.
Science Daily January 31, 2009