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What Compounds Cause Garlic Breath? – The Chemistry of Garlic
The latest food chemistry graphic looks at garlic and a couple of its well known effects. Garlic is frequently used in cooking, but its use comes with the unwanted accompaniment of ‘garlic breath’. On the more beneficial side of things, it can also have antibacterial properties. This post examines the chemical compounds behind these two phenomena.
Much as with onions, the chemicals that lead to ‘garlic breath’ aren’t actually present in unchopped garlic. They are formed when the garlic clove is mechanically damaged; this causes enzymes to break down the compound alliin, found in the cloves, to form allicin. Allicin is the major compound that contributes to chopped garlic’s aroma. It too is broken down into a range of sulfur-containing organic compounds, several of which contribute to the ‘garlic breath’ effect.