Garlic breath? Drink some milk
August 31st, 2010
04:31 PM ET

Garlic breath? Drink some milk

Garlic breath. Whether you're on a date or about to give an important presentation, that strong odor can be hard to get rid of.

But now scientists say that there is an easy remedy: Milk.

Researchers at Ohio State University have a study in the Journal of Food Science that found both fat-free and whole milk reduced the concentration of the chemicals of garlic that make it smell so strong. Water was the major component of milk responsible for deodorizing the smelly remnants of garlic. Because of the fat content, whole milk worked better than fat-free milk.

Adding milk to garlic before ingesting it was more effective in deodorizing a person's mouth than drinking milk after eating garlic, the researchers found.

"Ingesting beverages or foods with high water and/or fat content such as milk may help reduce the malodorous odor in breath after garlic ingestion and mask the garlic flavor during eating. To enhance the deodorizing effect, deodorant foods should be mixed with garlic before ingestion," the authors Areerat Hansanugrum and Sheryl Barringer wrote.

There are plenty of health reasons why you shouldn't let bad breath keep you from eating garlic. The vegetable has been suggested to have protective powers against cancer, urinary tract infections, and colds.

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Yahoo

    Or just stop eating garlic.

    August 31, 2010 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • foodie

      umm... who cuts garlic with a knife?!

      September 1, 2010 at 22:52 | Report abuse |
    • Tuck

      As every cook knows, parsley is the key. It gets the odor off your fingers after cutting and it gets the odor out of your mouth if you add it to the dish. Yeah, I don't get the milk advice–milk breath stinks almost as bad!

      September 1, 2010 at 23:13 | Report abuse |
    • JB

      let's not forget about it's usefulness in keeping vampires away...

      September 1, 2010 at 23:42 | Report abuse |
    • farts a lot

      garlic breath is the best breath.

      September 2, 2010 at 00:25 | Report abuse |
  2. DT

    Garlic milk. Somehow there are a lot more tasty combinations using garlic, than having your garlic with milk. Hey another thought: get everyone in your group to be eating garlic too! That way no one notices!

    August 31, 2010 at 18:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Soul

      mmmhhhh that explains why I can eat so much garlic and onion dip...

      September 1, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse |
  3. Joe

    So then how do you get your breath not to smell like spoiled milk. Milk's pretty gross anyway.

    August 31, 2010 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. PDX Veg

    Except the article says that milk worked because water was the main component. Why not drink water? If water and fat were the key, couldn't you just drink a glass of water and have some dessert to wipe out your garlic breath?

    Drinking milk will just give you that nasty spoiled-milk breath anyway.

    August 31, 2010 at 21:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. garliclover

    You eat garlic because it is good for you and it taste great! Why not roast your garlic instead? Something about roasting it, changes the properties and it becomes mellow, sweet and buttery in texture AND you dont get the odor issue. Check it out


    August 31, 2010 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Confused

    If you are going to mask the flavor of garlic during eating, why are you eating it in the first place? And all that blurb about water does it, but it is better with fat was totally incoherent...

    August 31, 2010 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Katerine

      I have run cunmomity ultrasound services in two GP health centres since 1996.These are excellent services backed up by audit on both clinical ouctomes and patient and GP satisfaction questionnaires.We have now been informed we must become AQP by 1/4/2012.There will be some benefits in doing this but this will also possibly increase prices if we go to a national tarriff.I have several concerns and would like to be able to discuss thse with some-one and as I have had 16 years experience doing this (think we were the first to do cunmomity based ultrasounds) I feel I have much to contribute.

      January 31, 2012 at 23:52 | Report abuse |
    • fjeszyylfau

      oWxvai pvmizsghfcmg

      February 3, 2012 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • kuwryltklr

      biRowH fkyeafovbhlp

      February 6, 2012 at 04:11 | Report abuse |
  7. Tuco

    This milk "remedy" is not very likely to help: The primary reason garlic causes bad breath is that garlic, like onions, contains a number of sulfur chemicals that are responsible for the flavors in garlic, onions, shallots, and so on. Some of these are known as mercaptans, a class of sulfur-containing compounds that includes the rotten-egg scent that is added to natural gas and the chemicals responsible for the odor in skunk spray.
    After eating garlic these compounds are metabolized and passed into the blood, along with other sulfur-containing by-products. These compounds are released from the blood into the lungs during breathing, which accounts for the long-lasting "garlic breath." So, drinking milk, brushing your teeth, eating mints or chewing gum will only mask the garlic odors briefly. Since the chemicals that cause garlic breath are actually being released into the breath by the lungs, the odor will return once the milk, gum, mints, etc. have "worn off."
    Also, it's probably not the fat in milk that reduces garlic breath temporarily; it's more likely milk proteins, which can bind the sulfur chemicals and "neutralize" them.
    So, go ahead and eat garlic, and if you're worried about your breath, stock up on Tic-Tacs!

    September 1, 2010 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lorne

      Way too much information but your heart is in the right place.
      why eat garlic BEFORE going out on a date, or a business meeting.

      September 2, 2010 at 00:47 | Report abuse |


    September 1, 2010 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. god of garlic

    Drinking milk while eating garlic will cause your stomach to explode. Mythbusters: disprove that one!

    September 1, 2010 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. magnus

    I ll still eat garlic and lots of it... I like milk too but fat free. If you dont like it, mind your own bizness.

    September 1, 2010 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Steven Kan

    "The vegetable has been suggested to have protective powers against cancer, urinary tract infections, and colds."

    and vampires.

    September 1, 2010 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Andrea M

      Have you learned nothing from Twilight?! None of the usual stuff works on modern-day vampires. Perhaps they'd run if you showed them a picture of Bela Lugosi.

      September 2, 2010 at 01:02 | Report abuse |
  12. j313

    Who the heck mixes milk into their garlic before eating it..mmmm milk in your marinara sauce.

    September 1, 2010 at 22:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Patty

    I love the smell of garlic.

    September 1, 2010 at 23:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Captain_Awesome

    Milk is alright but I prefer beers with my whole cloves.

    September 1, 2010 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tomohiko

      Only drink small amounts of soy milk due to the fact that the soy bean has nuratal chemicals that are poisonous in large amounts. I would recommend Lactaid milk or a brand like it that's made for lactose intolerant people.

      August 2, 2012 at 08:50 | Report abuse |
  15. rudejohn

    As a few others have pointed out, poorly written. "Water is the key component, so obviously whole milk, which has more fat, is more efficient." I presume the writer meant to say that the fat in milk is the key component.

    September 2, 2010 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Aravind V

    Even housholds in remote villages of India knew this. Thanks for proving that right. Even today, garlic, boiled in milk, is an unmatched remedy to gastric issues. Could anyone do a research on this?

    September 2, 2010 at 00:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. donna

    Milk does nothing. If you have garlic breath eat a spoonful of tuna and wash it down with onion juice to mask the smell.

    September 2, 2010 at 00:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Hi

    Lactose Intolerant. What do?

    September 2, 2010 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ringo


      September 2, 2010 at 01:17 | Report abuse |
  19. Andrea M

    But who wants to kill the garlic flavor in food?! I don't mind a date with garlic breath, it usually means he took me out to a good Italian place, or I cooked for him and he liked it. Besides, if you find garlic delicious, chances are you're not too turned off by the odor.

    September 2, 2010 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • foods.adi

      I agree!

      September 16, 2010 at 21:54 | Report abuse |
  20. Karim

    I am going to have to go ahead and disagree with you on this one, garlic breath doesn't originate from the garlic itself or the stomach or tongue, it comes from the lungs, and no amount of milk is going to change that.

    September 2, 2010 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. wanna2know

    Useful for mosquito repellant and helps make personal room when in crowded public spaces.

    Don't knock those love apples.

    September 2, 2010 at 02:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. foods.adi

    Have the researchers talked about any (adverse) interaction of milk and garlic components? Does the anti-cancer effect of garlic remains even after interaction with milk components?

    September 16, 2010 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Stunccortu

    devis liner piscine construire piscine naturelle devis piscine coque piscine devis construire piscine http://www.construire-piscine-natuelle.com/

    September 27, 2012 at 01:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sneak Daddy

    What if you are lactose intolerant, like me?

    June 9, 2013 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply

Leave a Reply to PDX Veg


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.