If you’ve ever skipped the garlic for fear of romantic rejection, take note: You can have your date and eat garlic – provided you follow up with a spoonful of yoghurt. Research suggests that the fat and protein that yoghurt contains prevents almost all of the smelly volatile compounds in garlic from escaping into the air.
Manpreet Kaur and Prof Sheryl Barringer at the Ohio State University in Columbus, US, tested the capacity of yoghurt – and the water, fat and protein in it – to neutralise the sulphurous compounds that give raw and cooked garlic its characteristic odour.
Their results, published in the journal Molecules, suggested yoghurt alone reduced 99% of the most odour-producing volatiles in raw garlic. The individual fat, water and protein components also had a neutralising effect, but fat and protein were more effective than water, and higher-fat yoghurt was better than lower-fat yoghurt.
Previous research has suggested that drinking whole milk can also help to get rid of garlic breath, because the fats it contains bind to several of the smelly molecules. Barringer said the proteins in yoghurt may also serve to trap volatile molecules before they are emitted into the air. “We know proteins bind flavour – a lot of times, that’s considered a negative, especially if a food with high protein has less flavour. In this case, it could be a positive,” she said.
She predicted that Greek yoghurt, which has a higher protein profile than the yoghurt used in the study, may be particularly effective. Fruit-flavoured yoghurts will also probably work – but whatever is used, it must be consumed as soon as possible after the garlic.
Their experiments also revealed that frying garlic significantly reduces the amount of smelly volatiles it releases. Separate research by Barringer has suggested that eating raw apple, mint or lettuce immediately after consuming garlic may also help to deodorise the breath.