Yes, you can enjoy the intense, delicious flavor and health benefits (including protection against cancer and cardiovascular problems) of garlic without worrying about the smelly aftereffects every time you exhale. Here are some easy breath-fresheners that don’t leave a medicine-y taste in your mouth…
Whole-milk neutralizer: Drinking some milk with a garlicky meal can substantially reduce both the taste and smell of garlic on your breath. According to research out of The Ohio State University, whole milk was most effective (compared with fat-free milk and water) at neutralizing the sulfur compounds found in garlic and minimizing bad breath. For maximum breath-freshening, it’s best to drink milk along with the garlicky dish. But if milk isn’t your idea of a great accompaniment for, say, shrimp scampi, drink the milk right before or right after your garlicky meal.
Rabbit (or horse) food: Researchers (also out of The Ohio State) have found that eating an apple or lettuce or mint leaves also decreases the chemical compounds that cause garlic breath by 50% or more compared with drinking water.
Bracing wedge: Suck a lemon! Some people get better results when they add salt to the lemon wedge just before the face-puckering intake. (This gets rid of hiccups too.) Caution: Do not suck lemons often. Do this only in an emergency social situation. With repeated use, the strongly acidic lemon juice can wear away tooth enamel.
Whole-clove help: People have been chewing cloves for over 5,000 years to freshen their breath—they’re not just for hams! Be sure to chew carefully.
Pantry favorite: Mix one-half teaspoon of baking soda into a cup of water, then swish it—one gulp at a time—around your mouth. Spit out. Be careful not to swallow this mouthwash. By the time you’ve rinsed your mouth with the entire cup, your breath should be fresh.
Thanks to Sheryl A. Barringer, PhD, professor and chair of graduate studies in the department of food science and technology at The Ohio State University, for help with this tip.