Garlic protects against more than just vampires.

Oct 06, 2008

Ola-Mudathir, KF, SM Suru, MA Fafunso, UE Obioha and TY Faremi. 2008. Protective roles of onion and garlic extracts on cadmium-induced changes in sperm characteristics and testicular oxidative damage in rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology online September 12.

Synopsis by Stacey L. Harper

Certain foods may protect against reproductive damage caused by environmental pollutants, as shown in this study that found rats fed a diet rich in onions and garlic before and during their exposure to the metal cadmium had fewer and less severe negative effects on their testes and sperm.

A diet rich in onions and modest in garlic protected rats against chemical-induced testicular damage and sperm toxicity, a new study from Nigeria reports. The results imply that diet and nutrition may be able to counter the effects of everyday exposures to environmental chemicals, such as the metal cadmium (Cd) used in this study. Cadmium occurs naturally in low levels but is now a widespread contaminate because of its extensive use in batteries, electronics, auto parts and other products. Humans are increasingly exposed to environmental contaminants that affect reproductive function. For example, cadmium is known to produce reproductive changes that lead to infertility and cancers of the reproductive tissues. In this month-long study, rats were fed water (controls), cadmium or one of two doses of onion or garlic extracts for one week. Rats given the extracts were also fed cadmium for the next three weeks. Researchers compared the groups. Cd altered the rats' enzyme levels and broadly affected sperm, decreasing concentrations and motility while increasing abnormalities and death. The researchers found that both onion and garlic extract partially protected the testis and sperm against Cd toxicity, most likely due to their antioxidant properties.