Scientists Discover A Cure For Garlic Breath

One simple ingredient might neutralize stubborn garlic breath once and for all.

There's no doubt that garlic is delicious, but there's also no question that its smell sure does stick around after you eat it. In some pretty amazing science news, a group of researchers from The Ohio State University have found that one particular ingredient prevents the deliciously stinky scent of garlic from escaping into the air, and that its properties might eventually be able to fight back against dreaded garlic breath once and for all. Best of all, it's something you can easily pick up at the grocery store.

Fat and protein can combat the smell of garlic

The magical ingredient that seems to neutralize garlic odor is—drumroll, please—whole milk plain yogurt. ScienceDaily reports that senior study author Sheryl Barringer, professor of food science and technology at The Ohio State University, notes multiple attributes of yogurt that make it an affective captor of garlic smells.

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The researchers found that yogurt's discrete components of water, fat, and protein help neutralize some of garlic's odor, but the combination of fat and protein found in yogurt is particularly effective. After some experimentation, a protein complex composed of whey and casein (a protein found in milk) performed the best out of the isolated protein experiments, and a higher concentration of butter fat was found to help during the fat-only experiments.

"We know proteins bind flavor—a lot of times that's considered a negative, especially if a food with high protein has less flavor," said Barringer. "In this case, it could be a positive."

While the study focused on whole milk plain yogurt, Barringer notes that since Greek yogurt has an even higher protein content, it would, in theory, be even more effective at killing garlic breath. And fruit add-ins don't appear as if they'd have any positive or negative effect.

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Other potential cures for garlic breath

In previous studies that Barringer conducted, she's found that other foods like milk, lettuce, and apples also help kill the sulfur-based compounds that cause the unwanted, lingering smell of garlic. The conclusion is that whatever you eat to offset the stink, timing is key.

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"With apples, we have always said to eat them immediately," Barringer said. "The same with yogurt is presumed to be the case—have your garlic and eat the yogurt right away."

There's only one way to find out if this works, right? I'll eat a bowl of toum, scarf down some yogurt, sit in a meeting with my colleagues here at The Takeout, and take note of whether anyone faints. I'll keep you posted.

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