Foods that beat garlic breath

If you like garlic then you probably love garlic. It is the bulb that adds delightful poignancy to the most bland of cream sauces and gives strength to the arm of the most anaemic broth. Yet, like all good things, the pleasures of garlic come at a cost and that price is paid by your breath. Not only do you know that you have enjoyed a garlic meal but for the next day everyone who comes within a metre of you knows it as well…until now. You are now able to banish garlic breath thanks to a new study highlighting the foods that can deal with the chemicals that cause it.

The volatile substances from garlic that cause garlic breath are diallyl disulphide, allyl mercapten, allyl methyl disulphide, and allyl methyl sulphide. Since we know this it is possible to measure the extent of garlic breath by using mass spectrometry to measure levels of these compounds when someone breathes into a tube. So, researchers had subjects eat three grams of garlic cloves which they chewed for 25 seconds. Then the subjects were divided into nine groups.

After chewing the garlic one group had water (a control group), one had raw apple, one had apple juice, one had heated apple, one had raw lettuce, one had heated lettuce, one had raw mint, one had mint juice, and one had green tea. The subjects then had their breath analysed using mass spectrometry.

The results showed that raw apple and raw lettuce decreased levels of volatiles by 50 per cent more than did water. Apple juice and mint juice both decreased levels of the compounds but not as much as chewing raw lettuce or raw mint. Heated apple and heated lettuce also significantly reduces levels of the odour causing compounds.

This all happens because there are two ways these foods are working. Enzymes in the foods break down the volatile compounds but are broken down by heating. However, phenolic compounds that do survive heating also destroy those compounds.

Your best choice then, if you have an early morning meeting after a precocious garlic butter sauce the night before, is to nibble on your apples, mint and lettuce in the raw (the food being raw that is).

Source: Journal of Food Science

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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