Ever go out to dinner and have to think twice about what you order based on how much garlic is used? The vegetable makes everything taste 10 times better, but how to get rid of garlic breath—especially when you’re in public—is another story altogether. The thing about the smell of garlic is that it isn’t just in your mouth, it can come from food in your stomach that hasn’t been digested yet as well (yuck). “[Brushing teeth] has no effect on what you have already swallowed or digested,” says Sheryl Barringer, the lead researcher of a study about garlic breath published in the Journal of Food Science.
Thankfully, there are science-backed bad breath remedies so you don't have to worry about leaving the restaurant with garlic breath ever again. Read on to see what they are.
Eat Raw Lettuce, Mint, or Apple
The study led by Barringer tested how well raw and microwaved apples, raw and microwaved lettuce, and mint leaves lowered the garlic vapors that caused bad breath. As part of each test, one of her colleagues chewed on a full clove of garlic, drank water, and then tried one of the remedies (this was done once a day until all the proposed "remedies" were used). Apples, lettuce, and mint all contain large amounts of phenolic compounds that react with the compounds that cause garlic breath. This is why the researchers think they were successful.
And when it came to cooked versus raw, which worked best? "The cooked and the raw were similar, but it's just that the raw [foods] have more enzymes which help speed up the process," Barringer says. Overall, mint was the most successful in reducing garlic breath, and although it wouldn't be quite as good as the raw version, having a cup of mint tea will also do a good job of neutralizing garlic breath.
Having a glass of milk also works well to eliminate garlic's smelly compounds. A study published in the Journal of Food Science found that a combination of fat and water is what helps to move garlic out of your digestive system faster. Researchers discovered that it was beneficial if you drank the milk while eating your garlicky meal. But if that's not possible, order a latte or indulge in a bowl of ice cream for dessert. And when it comes to the type of dairy, remember to choose whole milk over skim or low-fat.
Drink Lemon Juice
Drinking lemon juice is one of the top methods of how to get rid of garlic breath. So we know this option doesn't sound too appealing, but it works. Lemon juice's acidity helps to neutralize alliinase, the odor-causing enzyme produced by crushed garlic. If drinking a cup of straight lemon juice isn't up your alley, try squeezing a fresh lemon into some hot water instead.
What are your best tips for how to get rid of garlic breath? Up next: the foods a nutritionist eats every single day.