Garlic protects against disease-causing micro-organisms. But till recently, no one knew how it performs the germ-killing function. David Mirelman of the Wiezmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, has discovered that garlic contains a peptide called allicin which attacks proteins rich with amino acids. When the researcher exposed Entamoeba histolytica parasites to allicin, he observed nearly 80 per cent decrease in the activity of enzymes called cysteine proteinases . The enzymes are used by pathogens like Entamoeba histolytica that lead to amoebic dysentery. Garlic is also rich in antioxidant molecules that neutralise free radicals. Free radicals have been implicated in several forms of cancer. Allicin provides a protective shield against some cancers (Science , Vol 278, No 5338).
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