Image via Flickr
Of all the items you can throw in your shopping trolley, garlic is the one that’ll really give you bang for your buck. It’s cheap, versatile and incredibly healthy, plus there are few smells more mouth-watering than garlic and onion being fried together. Many of the world’s greatest savoury dishes, from garlic prawns and pasta sauces to hummus, involve a clove or two.
Like all good things in life (chocolate, cocktails, coffee…), there’s a frustrating downside to this member of the onion family: garlic breath.
Ruiner of kisses, destroyer of self-confidence, garlic breath is an unfortunate yet very common affliction that no amount of discretely chewed spearmint gum can kill off. The main culprit behind this smelly side-effect is allyl methyl sulphide, a compound in garlic which can’t be broken down during digestion – instead, it’s released from the body in our breath and sweat. The reason it feels as though you’re oozing fumes from every pore after eating an especially garlicky meal is because you literally are.
Before you swear off your favourite bulb in favour of smelling like a spearmint leaf, there’s been a happy development in the case of garlic breath. Scientists at Ohio State University, with the help of some very gallant volunteers, have identified a number of foods that can vanquish the smell of garlic.
The volunteers munched on some raw garlic (mmm, delicious), then ate a variety of foods thought to help curb the inevitable halitosis. Four smelly garlic compounds in their breath were measured before and after the ‘cures’ were consumed.
The findings, published in the Journal of Food Science, revealed raw apples had the greatest effect on garlic breath, followed by lemon juice and mint. Green tea, parsley and spinach were also effective. The researchers believe polyphenols, compounds found in all the foods that fought off bad breath, were able to break down the bad-smelling compounds in garlic.
So maybe ordering garlic prawns with a side of garlic bread on a first date isn’t such a perilous move after all. Just ensure your handbag has ample room for a fresh Red Delicious (and maybe a packet of Extra for good measure).