Garlic is a powerful antioxidant, but scientists were unsure of how it created its antioxidant effect, prompting them to investigate further.
Researchers in a study on the source of garlic’s antioxidants focused on allicin, the compound that gives garlic its distinct odor and flavor—but only when the bulbs are crushed and exposed to oxygen. In the lab, doctors exposed allicin to oxygen and found that it released sulfenic acid, the mysterious, potent antioxidant.
“The reaction between the sulfenic acid and [free] radicals is as fast as it can get, limited only by the time it takes for the two molecules to come into contact,” doctors said. “No one has ever seen compounds, natural or synthetic, react this quickly as antioxidants.”
Angewandte Chemie International Edition; 2009, Vol. 48, No. 1, 157-60