Nursing mothers who ate garlic are likely to have evident aroma of garlic in their breast milk, says a study.
Breast milk has been undisputedly known as the best food for infants. The benefits of breast milk are also claimed to prevent diseases and allergies and also influence eating habits, the researchers said.
"There are many myths about breast milk. However, we still know very little about the impact of food consumed by mothers on their infants’ diets later in life," said Andrea Buttner, Professor and Food Chemist at Friedrich Alexander University (FAU) in Germany.
“Some researchers suggest that children prefer those foods that their mothers consume during breastfeeding because they suggest that the milk tastes the same or at least similar,” Buttner added.
According to previous studies, infants actually drank more milk when their mothers consumed garlic, showing a stimulating effect of garlic. This is caused by Allyl Methyl Sulfide (AMS) – a metabolite which is first formed in a strong concentration during breastfeeding, the researchers said.
However, “AMS is definitely not the same as the original garlic aroma. It is generally an interesting finding of our research that derivatives of aromas are also found in breast milk, which are different from their original form in the food consumed,” Buttner explained in the work published online in the journal Metabolites.
For the study, the team examined the milk of breast feeding mothers who had eaten raw garlic an average of 2.5 hours earlier.
First, the milk was analysed in a sensory test by olfactory experts who found a garlic and cabbage-like odour in the samples.
Subsequently, the milk aroma was split into its components using gas chromatography and metabolites were detected that are clearly from the garlic: Allyl Methyl Sulfide (AMS), Allyl Methyl Sulfoxide (AMSO) and Allyl Methyl Sulfone (AMSO2).
Simultaneously, the metabolites were checked by olfactory experts and it was found that the AMS exudes a garlic-like aroma, while the other derivatives were found odourless.
The study also indicated that there are other aroma carriers that may influence the development of infants.
“We need to consider that the transfer of aromas in breast milk is limited, but odours from other social contexts such as from the mother’s body or food preparation could exert a much stronger effect,” Buttner noted.