How to Get Rid of Garlic Breath, According to Science

Fall Recipes: Garlic

Garlic is delicious and healthy, but garlic breath stinks. Here’s how to get rid of garlic breath, according to a new study, published in the Journal of Food Science.

Garlic is delicious and healthy, but garlic breath stinks. Here's how to get rid of garlic breath, according to a new study.

Researchers at Ohio State University had study participants chew on actual cloves of garlic for 25 seconds, then immediately eat or drink something. Then, they measured the volatiles – aka the smelly compounds – on each person’s breath to learn how to get rid of garlic breath with food.

They found that raw apple, raw lettuce, or raw mint leaves were the most effective at neutralizing the compounds that cause garlic breath. Apple juice and mint juice were also effective, but they weren’t as good as their whole food counterparts. Heated lettuce and apple were also effective. They weren’t as good as raw, but they worked better than the juices tested. The researchers also tested green tea and found that it did not help garlic breath at all.

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There are two ways that eating or drinking other foods helps neutralize garlic breath. Enzymes in the raw foods break down the compounds that make your breath stinky. After the enzymes do their thing, compounds called phenolic compounds step in and do more odor-busting work. Juicing or cooking the fruits and veggies they tested broke down some of the enzymes, which is why they think the raw foods were best at kicking garlic breath to the curb.

Beyond your breath, preparing garlic can be a stinky job. Garlic’s oils get on your hand, and it’s really hard to get the smell off. Jeannie Moulton has some helpful tips for how to get that garlic smell off of your hands and out of your house after cooking. I’ve tried rubbing my hands with salt and lemon to get rid of the garlic smell, and it is effective. If you have any cuts on your fingers, though, watch out! This method is literally salting your wounds.

Minimizing your contact with the garlic is the best way to avoid stinky garlic hands, though. The video below shows you how to prepare garlic for cooking without handling it quite so much.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by David Pursehouse

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