Garlic is so strong that it can change your breast milk’s flavour! Food chemists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg (FAU) have found that garlic aroma is evident in the breast milk of women who have consumed garlic.
This is caused by allyl methyl sulfide (AMS) – a metabolite which is first formed in a strong concentration during breastfeeding. Whether the aroma has an impact on which food preferences children develop and whether they like garlic in later life needs to be clarified by further research.
Researcher Dr Andrea Büttner said that “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. 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.”
With regard to the impact on the mother’s milk, Büttner’s findings are rather more conservative, as some aromas are very unstable and can be metabolised in the human body to derivatives that have little to do with the original food.
In the researcher, the food chemists 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: 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 – the other derivatives were odourless.
Can the consumption of garlic influence the subsequent eating habits of infants? “We cannot answer this question at present,” explained Büttner, adding “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 to their original form in the food consumed.”
It is of no concern that the garlic aroma could cause infants to reject breast milk – another study has already shown a stimulating effect – infants actually drank more milk when their mothers consumed garlic.
The study appears in journal Metabolites.