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Studies

This is the best way to cure garlic breath, according to science

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Do you love garlic but hate having smelly breath? (iStock)

Great news for lovers of Italian food and pretty much any delicious, aromatic cuisine.

Now you can enjoy super garlicky dishes without scaring away family, friends, or a potential mate.

Researchers at Ohio University say they’ve found a few simple and effective cures that will actually cure garlic breath-- or significantly reduce its oral potency. And no, it’s not chewing gum or mouthwash.

Instead, the scientists say, it’s better to go au naturel.

That’s right, chewing on plant leaves—specifically raw mint leaves, proved to be a top oral deodorizer when compared to other plants and green tea. The study, published in the Journal of Food Science this month, studied the effect of different foods on the volatile compounds (diallyl disulfide, allyl mercaptan, allyl methyl disulfide, and allyl methyl sulfide, if you were wondering) responsible for garlic breath, which is notoriously difficult to get rid of.

To conduct the research, scientists gave participants three grams of garlic cloves to chew for about 25 seconds. The contestants then had to drink water as a control. The research  team then measured the effects of several compounds including: raw, juiced, or heated apple, raw or cooked lettuce, raw or juiced mint leaves, and green tea.

About an hour after consuming the garlic, each participants’ breath was measured using selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry, a piece of equipment which analyzes trace gases and compounds in exhaled breath.

The results?

The team 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 deodorizing effect on all the compounds measured. But in its juiced or heated forms, mint was not as effective as juiced forms of raw apple or lettuce.

Green tea, meanwhile, exhibited no deodorizing properties.

The researchers suggest that raw foods are better at breaking down garlic’s volatile compounds because they contain both odor-eliminating enzymes (which are significantly reduced during heating or cooking) and phenolic compounds, which work to counteract garlic’s potent compounds.

So if you've got a hot date tonight, ditch the artificial gum and keep those fresh mint leaves handy.