KINGSTON, Ontario, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Canadian researchers say the organic compound allicin, which gives garlic its aroma and flavor, may be the world's most powerful anti-oxidant.
Study leader Derek Pratt of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, said that through experiments with synthetically produced allicin, the researchers found that an acid produced when the compound decomposes rapidly reacts with radicals. Organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time.
"Basically the allicin compound has to decompose in order to generate a potent anti-oxidant," Pratt said in a statement.
"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 one has ever seen compounds, natural or synthetic, react this quickly as anti-oxidants."
Pratt says he is confident that a link exists between the reactivity of the sulfenic acid and the medicinal benefits of garlic.
The findings are published in the international chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie.