Researchers have cracked the mystery of why eating garlic can help keep the heart healthy.
The key is allicin, which is broken down into the foul-smelling sulphur compounds which taint breath.
These compounds react with red blood cells and produce hydrogen sulphide which relaxes the blood vessels, and keeps blood flowing easily.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham research appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. However, UK experts warned taking garlic supplements could lead to side effects.
Hydrogen sulphide generates a smell of rotten eggs and is used to make stink bombs. But at low concentrations it plays a vital role in helping cells to communicate with each other. And within the blood vessels it stimulates the cells that form the lining to relax, causing the vessels to dilate.
This, in turn, reduces blood pressure, allowing the blood to carry more oxygen to essential organs, and reducing pressure on the heart.
The Alabama team bathed rat blood vessels in a bath containing juice from crushed garlic.
This produced striking results - with tension within the vessels reduced by 72%.
Source - BBC