Natural Remedies for Garlic Breath

Go ahead – order that large pizza with extra garlic. But if you have a date, you may want to also order this for dessert.

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Garlic has many qualities that can promote health, but there is a reason it is affectionately called “The Stinking Rose.” The very compounds that are good for you tend to hang around in your mouth long after you eat it. But there are some natural remedies to garlic breath so that you can eat your favorite foods joyfully.

Garlic belongs to the allium plant family, which also includes foods such as onions, shallots and leeks. These produce sulfuric compounds that can make breath smell badly. This actually happens in two ways. One, the breakdown of the food in the mouth immediately causes odor which will remain until the compounds are rinsed, brushed, or flossed away. But the compounds are also broken down after digestion and then released into the bloodstream and filtered through the lungs. This means that the odor can last even up to three hours after eating garlic.

New research published by a team of scientists at Ohio State University in the Journal of Food Science has found that eating raw apple or lettuce may help reduce garlic breath. These foods helped decrease the concentration of certain “volatiles” in the breath – including diallyl disulfide, allyl mercaptan, allyl methyl disulfide and allyl methyl sulfide - by 50% or more.

Other ingredients that helped “deodorize” the breath included apple juice and mint leaves. While the foods could be either raw or cooked and still be effective, the team learned that raw foods were generally best because of their added enzymes.

Unfortunately, green tea was not found to be of much help when it came to decreasing odor.

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How to Reduce Garlic Breath

If you are eating garlic tonight, plan to have apples for a side or for dessert. You can also eat dinner the “French” way and save your green salad for after the entrée. You might even enjoy a mint tea after your meal.

Other ways to decrease garlic breath include:
• Brushing and flossing very soon after a meal. Remember to brush your tongue and to use mouthwash.
• Herbs that may also be effective in eliminating odor include parsley, cardamom, fennel, cloves and anise seeds.
• Lemon may be helpful in both neutralizing the odor and with it’s antibacterial properties.
• Drink milk – a past study from 2010 suggests that the fat content in milk can help neutralize odor – so choose whole milk over skim!
• Chew sugar free gum – this is likely best for just masking the odor until you can get home and properly brush!

Journal Reference:
Rita Mirondo, Sheryl Barringer. Deodorization of Garlic Breath by Foods, and the Role of Polyphenol Oxidase and Phenolic Compounds. Journal of Food Science, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.13439

Additional Resources:
The World’s Healthiest Foods
BreathMD

Photo Credit:
By Matěj Baťha - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

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