Garlic aroma found in breast milk

July 15, 2016

Food chemists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (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. The results of the study have now been published in the online journal Metabolites published by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI).*

That breast milk is the best food for infants is undisputed. But what is it about the benefits of breast milk that are claimed to prevent diseases and allergies, or influence eating habits? 'There are many myths about breast milk,' says Prof. Dr. Andrea Büttner from the Division of Food Chemistry. '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.'

Büttner's research group has been working for many years on how aromas are processed by the human metabolism. 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. Büttner's team has demonstrated in earlier studies that fish oil and nursing tea do not change the aroma profile of breast milk. Eucalyptus capsules, which are sometimes taken for colds during breast feeding, can however give the milk a significant eucalyptus aroma. Interestingly, not just the original aroma eucalyptol is found in the milk, but also a variety of derivatives, which are first formed in the mother's body.

AMS causes garlic aroma in breast milk

This seems to be similar with garlic. In a recent study, the food chemists at FAU 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 - the other derivatives were odourless.

Can the consumption of garlic influence the subsequent eating habits of infants? 'We cannot answer this question at present,' explains Andrea Büttner. '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. So far, research has focused on the smell, however there are many more effects of such derivatives on the health and development of infants which are still largely unexplored. In addition, the effect of certain substances in food could be generally overestimated as the mother's body also has a protective function which can break down less beneficial substances. It is often forgotten that even natural aromas are not necessarily healthy.'

Bodies and kitchens also transport aromas

In connection with the discussion about the properties of human milk, Andrea Büttner also indicates 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. People can often remember childhood experiences through smell and the aromas of parents baking cakes or a favourite meal being prepared is one of the most formative experiences. In relation to social learning of odours and aromas there is still a great need for research.' 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 results of the study have now been published in the online journal Metabolites published by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). Doi: 10.3390/metabo6020018: 'Detection of Volatile Metabolites of Garlic in Human Breast Milk'

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Related Breast Milk Articles from Brightsurf:

The "gold" in breast milk
Breast milk strengthens a child's immune system, supporting the intestinal flora.

Is COVID-19 transmitted through breast milk? Study suggests not likely
A recent study by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine suggests transmission of COVID-19 through breast milk is not likely.

Mom and baby share 'good bacteria' through breast milk
A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Manitoba has found that bacteria are shared and possibly transferred from a mother's milk to her infant's gut, and that breastfeeding directly at the breast best supports this process.

Pasteurizing breast milk inactivates SARS-CoV-2
Pasteurizing breast milk using a common technique inactivates severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) making it safe for use, according to new research in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). ttps://

Breast milk may help prevent sepsis in preemies
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have found -- in newborn mice -- that a component of breast milk may help protect premature babies from developing life-threatening sepsis.

New study associates intake of dairy milk with greater risk of breast cancer
Intake of dairy milk is associated with a greater risk of breast cancer in women -- up to 80% depending on the amount consumed -- according to a new study conducted by researchers at Loma Linda University Health.

Study: Difference in breast milk concentrations impacts growth up to age 5
In a new study, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine confirmed the findings of previous pilot studies that found an association between human milk concentrations and infant weight and body composition.

Component of human breast milk enhances cognitive development in babies
CHLA investigators show that early exposure to a carbohydrate found in breast milk, called 2'FL, positively influences neurodevelopment.

Photoinitiators detected in human breast milk
Photoinitators (PIs) are compounds used in the ink of many types of food packaging.

Informal sharing of breast milk gains popularity among women, despite safety risks
Women who are unable to produce enough breast milk for their children are increasingly turning to 'mother-to-mother' informal milk-sharing, a potentially unsafe practice that is discouraged by the pediatric medical community, according to new research being presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2019 National Conference & Exhibition.

Read More: Breast Milk News and Breast Milk Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to