Stuffing that Sunday roast chicken with 40 cloves of garlic seemed like a great idea at the time but not so much come Monday morning, when you’re chain-chewing gum and doing the cupping-your-mouth breath test at your desk.
But now, you can brave a garlic mushroom starter on the first date and have spaghetti vongole for mains because scientists at Ohio State University have found a cure for your stinky, please-don’t-go-in-for-a-snog breath.
Unsurprisingly, researchers found that chewing on mint leaves was a top garlic breath deodoriser, but the results also showed that raw apple and raw lettuce were just as effective.
The research, which was published in the Journal of Food Science last week, studied the effect of different foods on the volatile compounds responsible for garlic breath (diallyl disulfide, allyl mercaptan, allyl methyl disulfide, and allyl methyl sulfide, if you were wondering).
Participants were given 3 grams of garlic cloves to chew on for 25 seconds before drinking water as a control. Scientists then measured the effects of raw, juiced, or heated apple; raw or heated lettuce; raw or juiced mint leaves; and green tea. The results were measured up to an hour after consumption using selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry, a piece of equipment which analyses trace gases and compounds in exhaled breath.
Slightly more accurate than the sniff-and-see test, then.
While green tea didn’t help with smelly breath situations, researchers found that “raw apple and raw lettuce decreased the concentration of volatiles in breath by 50 percent or more compared to the control for the first 30 minutes.” Mint leaves had an even higher deodorising effect on all the compounds measured, but across the foods tested, juiced and heated versions were not as potent.
The researchers suggest that raw foods are better at breaking down garlic’s volatile compounds because they contain both odour-eliminating enzymes and phenolic compounds, which destroy the volatiles.
Finally, we can have our garlic bread and eat it, too.