Science Is Working on a Cure for Garlic Breath


Photo by: Guy Erwood ©Guy Erwood

Guy Erwood, Guy Erwood

We’ve all been there after indulging in a deliciously garlicky dish: supremely satisfied — and also self-conscious that your breath seriously reeks. Garlic breath can last as long as 24 hours after you consume garlic. They don’t call it the “stinking rose” for nothing.

Thankfully, science is on it. Researchers at Ohio State University have determined that chewing mint leaves and eating apple or lettuce (either raw or cooked) may remedy garlic breath. They arrived at this simple conclusion after engaging a group of study participants to chew three grams of softneck garlic cloves for 25 seconds. Then the participants were immediately given either water (the control), apples (either raw, juiced or heated), lettuce (raw or heated), mint leaves (raw or juiced) or green tea.

The researchers then measured and analyzed the “volatiles” that cause garlic breath — diallyl disulfide, allyl mercaptan, allyl methyl disulfide and allyl methyl sulfide — in the participants’ exhalations.


According to the study, just published in the September issue of Journal of Food Science, raw apple, raw lettuce and mint leaves dramatically reduced the concentration of garlic-breath-causing volatiles in participants’ breath. Apple juice and mint juice also worked to deodorize breath — working their magic on the “garlic volatiles” — but they weren’t quite as effective as the raw foods. Heated apples and lettuce significantly reduced two of the volatiles. And Green tea was found to have no deodorizing effect whatsoever on the garlic-breath-causing volatiles.

The researchers suggest that raw foods were more effective than cooked foods because they contain two methods that help deodorize breath: enzymes that combat odors and phenolic compounds that destroy volatiles.

Certainly an interesting study to chew over — along with a few mint leaves (or apple or lettuce) after a flavorful meal.

Photo: iStock

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