Scientists discover new way to get rid of garlic breath with everyday food

by Rajesh Kaur

If you enjoy eating garlic but hate the lingering smell it leaves behind, scientists may have found a solution for you. According to recent research published in the scientific journal Molecules, eating yoghurt is the best way to neutralize garlic breath. The study found that a protein present in whole-milk plain yoghurt can snuff out the sulphur-based compounds responsible for the odour.

Dr Sheryl Barringer, a professor of food science and technology at Ohio State University who led the study, has previously investigated other foods to determine their ability to rid the breath of odours. Lettuce, apples, milk, and mint are among the foods already known to combat garlic breath. In this study, the researchers placed equal amounts of raw garlic in glass bottles and measured the levels of volatile molecules in gaseous form before and after each treatment.

The results showed that yoghurt alone reduced almost all (99%) of the major, odour-producing raw garlic volatiles. The fat, water, and protein components of yoghurt also had a deodorizing effect on raw garlic, with fat and protein performing better than water. Different forms of whey, casein, and milk proteins were tested, and a casein micelle-whey protein complex was found to be the most effective at deodorizing garlic.

Dr Barringer explained that the high protein content of yoghurt could be a positive selling point for the product. She stated, “An unintended side benefit may be a high-protein formulation that could be advertised as a breath deodorizer in addition to its nutritional claims. It probably depends on the protein, as well because different proteins react differently to pH. So that may be an important thing as we look at other proteins for their garlic deodorization effect.”

The researchers also experimented with changing the pH level of the yoghurt and found that doing so reduced its effectiveness in deodorizing garlic. This suggests that the proteins in yoghurt play a crucial role in neutralizing the odour. Yoghurt’s deodorizing effects on fried garlic were tested as well, but it was found that frying the garlic significantly reduces most of its odour-causing volatile compounds anyway. The researchers believe that their study provides a good basis for further exploration of different proteins that could be used to develop a garlic-breath eradication product.

In the meantime, Dr Barringer suggests consuming Greek yoghurt, which has a higher protein value than whole-milk plain yoghurt, to effectively rid yourself of garlic breath. Flavoured yoghurts would likely work as well, as long as they are consumed immediately after eating garlic. So, the next time you indulge in a garlicky meal, make sure to have some yoghurt on hand to neutralize the smell and keep your breath fresh.

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