Fresh Garlic Better Than Garlic Powder, Duh!

I’m Italian, so I’m required to like garlic, but that garlic powder I grew up on can’t hold a candle to fresh garlic. A new study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry claims that raw, crushed garlic has more heart-protective effects than the dried stuff.

In the study, Dipak K. Das and colleagues point out that raw, crushed garlic generates hydrogen sulfide through a chemical reaction. Although best known as the stuff that gives rotten eggs their distinctive odor, hydrogen sulfide 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 sulfide.

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.

Garlic is one of the foods Dr. Fuhrman recommends diabetics eat plenty of, along side green vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms and onions. Sometimes I bake garlic cloves in the oven and spread it on wholegrain bread.

Via EurekAlert!

Image credit: Ian-S

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Comments (6) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Catherine - July 30, 2009 8:50 AM

I do like my garlic, but this post scares me a bit. Hydrogen sulfide is a toxic gas. I mean, shoot, look what wiki has to say about it:
"Hydrogen sulfide is a highly toxic and flammable gas. Being heavier than air, it tends to accumulate at the bottom of poorly ventilated spaces. Although very pungent at first, it quickly deadens the sense of smell, so potential victims may be unaware of its presence until it is too late. For safe handling procedures, a hydrogen sulfide material safety data sheet (MSDS) should be consulted.[6]"
"Hydrogen sulfide is considered a broad-spectrum poison, meaning that it can poison several different systems in the body, although the nervous system is most affected."
"Hydrogen sulfide was used by the British as a chemical agent during World War One. It was not considered to be an ideal war gas, but while other gasses were in short supply it was used on two occasions in 1916.[11]"

Someone clarify this post for me? :|

Manda - July 30, 2009 11:33 AM

Catherine, I think there is probably a difference between that found in natural garlic and that used as a synthetic chemical agent. Just sayin'. Seeing as we rarely see garlic fans bursting into flames, I think you're safe.
Raw, crushed garlic is also an excellent anti-microbial when you're starting to feel a cold coming on - if you can stomach it :)

Gerry Pugliese - July 30, 2009 1:03 PM

Hey Catherine-

I asked Dr. Fuhrman about it. In short, keep eating garlic. ;)


Steve - July 31, 2009 9:01 AM

Hi Gerry

Excuse my language, but Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) is the main culprit in, um, beer farts. Silent but deadly.

There will not be any difference between H2S in garlic and stink bombs (there are only 3 atoms in the molecule, it is not some complicated protein).

Many substances have this two edged sword aspect to them (healthy in some ways, poisonous in others). After all we take/eat antioxidants to protect us from oxygen, but that is not an argument to stop breathing in air.

Cheers, Steve

Catherine - August 1, 2009 12:02 AM

Thanks Steve, that's what I was looking for* (see really long rant below). I'm guessing the concentration is pretty darn low in garlic, too, since we're not dropping dead :D.

I'm not sure if you're quite right about antioxidants, unless oxygen is commonly a free radical. Antioxidants prevent oxidation, which is essentially elements nabbing electrons from other substances, rendering an internal system unstable (which sounds worse than it really is, y'see). Antioxidants will "give up" electrons but still maintain stability after the fact, putting the balance back in the system. Unless oxygen tends to come in unstable forms, which do tell if it does, it wouldn't need to be protected against. Since oxygen tends to come with stable electron pairs, such as -2, it strikes me as odd that antioxidants would involve oxygen.

Steve - August 1, 2009 10:42 AM

Hi Catherine
I'm an engineer, not a biologist, so I am hardly an expert here. I think one of the main free radicals in the body is known as "superoxide". This is an oxygen molecule with an extra electron.

Cheers, Steve

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