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Raw garlic is one of my favorite ingredients to add to just about any food. And I personally don’t mind the smell either! But out of consideration for people around me, I would often find myself limiting the amount of raw garlic I ate, since consistently eating 3 or 4 cloves every day meant smelling like garlic, with the problem being even worse in the summer.
You’ve probably heard that garlic has lots of health benefits, and that’s why I take my garlic supplements every day, as well as add raw garlic to my breakfast and dinner. Now, if there was only a way I could increase my intake of raw garlic without smelling so bad?
Well, according to science, perhaps there are several foods in your local store that could combat it. There have been several papers published looking at the effect of various fruits, vegetables, and other foods on the deodorization of garlic breath. One of the earliest reports on garlic breath was published in JAMA back in 1936, but the disposition of these compounds from garlic was investigated in 1930 by Lehmann .
More recently, researchers have made a concerted effort to banish the smell of garlic by investigated certain foods which contain compounds, such as polyphenols and enzymes, that can degrade some of the sulfur compounds found in garlic and onions.
There are mainly sulfur compounds that are responsible for the smell you get from garlic, and so while some foods might be effective at blocking one, it may not be effective for all compounds.
Which foods can reduce the odor from eating garlic?
Diallyl disulfide is created from the parent compound known as allicin and is partly responsible for the smell from eating garlic. As it decomposes, it produces other compounds that have odor-inducing effects.
The compound allyl methyl sulfide is able to stay in the body for a number of days, so the smell of garlic is able to persist long after you’ve eaten it. So as you eat garlic daily, this will have a compounding effect and build up over time.
However, according to some studies, foods are able to reduce the smell-inducing effects of garlic due to a physical and chemical reaction between compounds found in various plant foods and grains. They also noted that increased enzymatic degradation of disulfides was also responsible for their ability to reduce the odor from garlic [2, 3, 4 ].
As the polyphenols are oxidized by enzymes, the oxidized polyphenols have a deodorizing effect. And the effect is greater using a combination of foods rather than any individual food.
Vegan foods that have been found help reduce the smell of garlic include
- Boiled rice
- Apple juice
- Mint juice
- Lemon juice
Compounds that have been shown to have a strong deodorizing effect include:
- Rosmarinic acid – Rosemary, Thyme, Peppermint, Basil, Holy Basil, and Lemon Balm (Most effective)
- Quercetin – Apples, heated and raw (moderately effective)
- Catechin – Prune juice, Açaí oil, Cocoa
In order for these foods and compounds to be most effective at reducing the odor you get from eating garlic, it’s important that you eat them either before the meal, during, or after it. It’s also fine to use heated apple or lettuce, but eating the foods raw is most effective at reducing the odor.
And finally, if you wait a few hours before you consume these drinks and foods, they are unlikely to be effective. Combining foods will have a greater effect than simply using one by itself.
Other ways you can freshen up your breath after consuming garlic
After you eat garlic, the smell can linger in the mouth and so dealing with this will also greatly reduce the odor after eating it.
- Spearmint Gum – It will help deal with the immediate aftermath of eating garlic and freshen up your breath.
- Green Tea – Tea is effective at reducing odor from the breakdown of food in the mouth by bacteria, so why not enjoy a cup of green tea with your meal or soon after?
- Brush and floss – Garlic that gets stuck in between teeth and in the mouth will decompose and prolong garlic breath, so brush your teeth soon after if you can.
Garlic supplements without the smell
Some people don’t like garlic at all or simply don’t eat it often enough to enjoy the many health benefits it offers. For those people, I recommend supplements like allicin max. I’ve taken it for a long time and it’s one of my favorite supplements.
I also did a review of a few garlic supplements, so be sure to check that out.
As far as the smell from taking them, I think I do notice a little bit, especially from taking really high doses, but it’s not anywhere near as bad as consuming a handful of garlic cloves every day.
If you’re interested in reading some of the health benefits of garlic, I recommend reading my article where I have reviewed some of the clinical studies involving garlic and allicin.
In many countries, garlic is a staple of the diet and people don’t seem as bothered by the smell as we are in the west. That’s too bad because garlic is very for you and goes well with so many dishes.
If you’re one of those people who avoid garlic, now you can experiment with some of the foods that I’ve listed above, to see if they really can help reduce the smell from eating raw garlic. Just be sure to do it when you don’t have to go into work the next day!