Garlic may provide protection against heart damage as well as vampires, research suggests.
Treatment just before blood flow was restored reduced the amount of heart tissue damaged by almost two-thirds.
Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine in the United States have turned to diallyl trisulfide, a garlic oil component, as a way to deliver the benefits of hydrogen sulphide to the heart.
Normally the unstable and volatile gas is difficult to deliver as a therapy because it needs to be injected. Now, thanks to garlic oil, it can be administered orally.
Doctors could use diallyl trisulfide in many of the situations where researchers have proposed using hydrogen sulphide.
David Lefer, professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine, said: 'We are now performing studies with orally active drugs that release hydrogen sulphide.
'This could avoid the need to inject sulphide-delivery drugs outside of an emergency situation.'
Researchers blocked the coronary arteries of mice for 45 minutes, simulating a heart attack, and gave them diallyl sulphide just before blood flow was restored.
The compound reduced the proportion of damaged heart tissue in the area at risk by 61 per cent, compared with untreated animals.
The findings were presented today at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions meeting in Orlando, Florida.
Further research reported by the team suggests diallyl trisulfide could also reduce heart enlargement caused by heart failure.