The Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg (FAU) chemists have found that garlic aroma is showing up in the breast milk of women who have consumed garlic. The cause of this is by allyl methyl sulfide (AMS), which is a metabolite that is first formed in a strong concentration during breastfeeding. It is not known if the aroma has an impact on which food preferences children develop or whether they like garlic in later life. This needs to be clarified by further research. These results have been published in the online journal Metabolites by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI).
There is no better food for infants than mom’s breast milk, but what is it about the benefits that are claimed to prevent diseases and allergies or influence eating habits? Prof. Dr. Andrea Buttner from the Division of Food Chemistry says there are many myths about breast milk and we know very little about the impact of food consumed by mothers on their infants’ diets later in life. It is suggested that children prefer those foods that their mothers consume during breastfeeding because they suggest the milk tastes the same or at least similar.
This research group has been working for many years on how aromas are processed by the human metabolism. Buttner’s findings are more conservative with regard to the impact on the mother’s milk. Her team has demonstrated in earlier studies that fish oil and nursing tea do not change the aroma profile of breast milk, however, eucalyptus capsules can give the milk a significant eucalyptus aroma.
The food chemists at FAU examined the milk of breast-feeding mothers who had eaten raw garlic an average of 25 hours earlier. The milk was analyzed in a sensory test by olfactory experts who found a garlic and cabbage-like odor in the samples. The aroma was split into its components using gas chromatography and metabolites were detected that are clearly from the garlic. They are allyl methyl sulfide (AMS), allyl methyl sulfoxide (AMSO) and allyl methyl sulfone (AMS02). The AMS exudes a garlic-like aroma and the other derivatives were odorless.
They cannot speculate if the consumption of garlic influences the subsequent eating habits of infants.
AMS is definitely not the same as the original garlic aroma. Research has focused on the smell, but there are many more effects of such derivatives on the health and development of infants, which are largely unexplored.
Buttner also indicates there are other aroma carriers that may influence the development of infants, as they need to consider the transfer of aromas in breast milk is limited, but odors from other social contexts, as from the mother’s body or food preparation could exert a much stronger effect. Many people can remember their childhood experiences just through the smell and aromas of parents baking cakes or a favorite meal being prepared. There is no concern that the garlic aroma could cause infants to reject breast milk. There has been another study that shows a stimulating effect that infants actually drank more milk when their mothers consumed garlic.
-Dr Fredda Branyon