Garlic is a double edged sword. In one instant, garlic is the savior of boring food. For centuries, humans had to eat bland food or food that required other processes to preserve it e.g. salting, curing, pickling, etc. Garlic, therefore, served a integral purpose in making food more palatable. Garlic, however, also has a negative side, one that we’re certain everyone is aware of: it stinks. Garlic may have made your last meal delicious, but it lingers in the mouth with a tenacity that is almost incomparable in nature. What is one to do?
Beating Garlic Breath
After eating a meal chock full of garlic, the natural response is usually a mint, gum, Binaca, or a quick brush if you’re out on the town. There are, however, a number of other ways to extinguish the odor of garlic without the use of mouth fresheners. A new study has published their findings on what foods/drinks serve as excellent eliminators of garlic breath in the Journal of Food Science.
- Most effective: Raw apples.
- Particularly effective: lemon juice and, rather unsurprisingly, mint.
- Also effective: green tea, parsley and spinach.
Chemistry of Garlic Breath
One of the more mischievous ways garlic spreads its odor is through the durability of the chemical compound allyl methyl sulfide. This organosulfur compound is a tricky bugger because it isn’t broken down during digestion. It is this compound that carries garlic’s strong odor and since it isn’t digested, it exudes from the body in breath and sweat. Yuck!
This is where apples, and the other foods, demonstrate their strength in eliminating garlic odor. All of the foods they found to be effective were also loaded in compounds called polyphenols (also found in red wine). Polyphenols break down the pungent compounds in garlic. In the case of lemon juice, acidity may have also helped the deodorizing process. Milk too, in prior research, was found to be fairly effective in “significantly reducing” concentrations of the chemicals that give garlic its long-lasting smell. For you non-skim milk lovers, this is good news: full-fat milk proved more effective than reduced fat.
So next time you indulge in a tasty garlic filled meal, ditch the gum and mints. Instead, enjoy a post-meal apple with a side of green tea. You’ll stand out for your originality and you’ll have effectively vanquished that undesirable garlic breath.
Dr. Sam Sadati is the owner and practitioner of The Sadati Center of Aesthetic Dentistry in West Palm Beach and a leader in the world of cosmetic dentistry and smile design. He is the only accredited cosmetic dentist in all of South Florida and is one of only forty dentists in the world to receive an Accredited Fellow honor from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Apart from creating beautiful smiles, Dr. Sadati enjoys photography, travel, and the opportunity to tell a good joke. If you have a question or comment, dental-related or otherwise, connect with us on Facebook or Twitter. We always reply to our fans and followers!