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Milk could stop garlic breath, says study

By Nathan Gray , 26-Aug-2010

Consuming food or beverages with a high water and fat content like milk reduces ‘garlic breath’ odour, according to a new study.

The research, from the Journal of Food Science, indicates that ingesting milk before or with garlic can reduce concentrations of volatile compounds responsible for foul-smelling ‘garlic breath’.

“Ingesting beverages or foods with high water and/or fat content such as milk may help … garlic ingestion and mask the garlic flavour during eating,” reported the researchers, from the Department of Food Science and Technology at Ohio State University.

Smelly benefits?

Garlic is an excellent source of magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and selenium, and is reported to have many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, and cholesterol.

However, the consumption of garlic leads to bad breath and body odor which can last over several hours or days, report the authors.

The main compounds responsible for ‘garlic breath’ are allyl mercaptan, diallyl disulfide, methyl mercaptan, and allyl methyl sulphide.

Many fruits, vegetables, and beverages have been seen to successfully eliminate the odor of allyl mercaptan, methyl mercaptan, and diallyl disulfide during in vitro lab tests.

But, in similar tests milk has been found to have better deodorizing activity against diallyl disulfide – one of the major odour components of garlic breath.

Neutralising power

Until now, only in vitro lab tests have been performed on milk and its capability to neutralise foul smelling odours in garlic breath.

The aim of the new study was to investigate the effects of milk on garlic breath in people (in vivo).

The addition of water, fat-free milk, whole milk, or 10 per cent sodium caseinate to chopped garlic before ingestion was reported to reduce the strength of all ‘garlic breath’ compounds in the mouth. Both fat-free and whole milk significantly reduced concentrations of the garlic compound, reported the researchers.

High fat whole milk was reported as more effective than fat-free milk in reduction of the hydrophobic compounds diallyl disulfide and allyl methyl disulfide. But no significant difference was found in the reduction of the more hydrophilic compounds allyl mercaptan, allyl methyl sulfide, and methyl mercaptan between fat-free and whole milk.

The study reports water to be the likely major component of fat-free and whole milk responsible for deodorization. However, due to its higher fat content whole milk was more effective than fat-free milk in the deodorization of more hydrophobic compounds.

The order of ingestion was seen to have significant effects on the deodorization of garlic compounds - drinking milk after ingestion had a lower effect than drinking milk mixed with garlic.

“Results suggest that drinking beverages or foods with high water and/or fat content such as milk may help reduce the malodorous odor in breath after consumption of garlic and mask the garlic flavour during eating,” wrote the researchers.

“To enhance the deodorizing effect, deodorant foods should be mixed with garlic before ingestion,” they added

Source: Journal of Food Science
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.01715.x
“Effect of Milk on the Deodorization of Malodorous Breath after Garlic Ingestion”
Authors: A. Hansanugrum, S.A. Barringer

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