Garlic isn’t only a tasty addition to stir-fries, salads and more. It’s also good for us: It may help lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, and research shows that regular intake may help lower the risk of certain cancers, like endometrial and prostate cancers.
But all potential health benefits aside, garlic has one major drawback: It can cause garlic breath that lasts up to 24 hours! Thankfully, a recent preliminary study in the journal Food Chemistry found a potential way to help diminish this. Study participants first ate garlic, immediately followed by apple (raw, juiced or heated). Study authors then measured the participants’ levels of garlic volatiles (aka garlic breath) using a technique called spectrometry. The test was then repeated with lettuce (raw or heated), mint leaves (raw or juiced) and green tea.
Garlic breath significantly decreased after the participants ate raw apple, raw lettuce and raw mint leaves. Study authors believe this is due to specific components in the foods that help in the deodorizing process. Although the apple juice, mint juice, heated apple and heated lettuce were helpful in reducing bad breath, their impact wasn’t as great as that of the raw produce and herbs — and the green tea didn’t affect breath at all.
The study was small, so more-extensive research is needed to produce definitive results. In the meanwhile, you can aim to decrease your own garlic breath by trying these healthy strategies after eating a garlic-heavy dish:
- Have a lettuce-based salad after dinner (as the French do!).
- Slice up some apple slices for dessert.
- Eat a dessert of diced apples roasted with lemon juice and topped with chopped mint leaves.
- Munch on mint leaves as an after-dinner refresher.
Because garlic may interfere with certain medications, such as aspirin and anticoagulants, it’s best to exercise caution while using it. It may also thin the blood — so discuss your garlic use with your doctor if you’re scheduled for surgery soon.
Amy Gorin, M.S., RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life and Runner’s World — as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.