It has long been known that garlic has numerous positive health effects. For example, the cardiovascular system and the immune system can benefit from it. But after eating it, your breath often smells bad. Researchers are now reporting that yogurt could help against the smell of garlic.
A new study finds that yogurt may be the answer to the annoying problem of garlic smell. Research has shown that certain proteins in yogurt have amazing deodorizing effects and can therefore help eliminate unpleasant odors after consuming garlic. The study results were published in the scientific journal “Molecules”.
According to a statement from Ohio State University, the study conducted in a laboratory – with breath tests on humans – showed that whole milk plain yogurt prevents almost all of the volatile compounds responsible for the pungent smell of garlic from becoming airborne.
The researchers tested the deodorizing ability of yogurt and its individual components, water, fat and protein, to find out how each one withstands the smell.
Both fat and protein were effective at trapping garlic odors, leading the scientists to believe that protein-rich foods could one day be developed specifically to combat the smell of garlic.
“High protein is a very hot thing right now — people generally want to eat more protein,” says lead study author Sheryl Barringer, a professor of food science and technology at Ohio State University.
“An unintended side effect could be a protein-rich formulation that could be promoted as a breath deodorizer in addition to its nutritional information,” the researcher said. “I was more excited about the effectiveness of the protein because advising consumers to eat a high-fat food is not going to be well received.”
Foods that can combat garlic smell
Barringer has previously identified foods that can combat garlic odor, including apples, mint, lettuce and milk, thanks to their enzymes, or fats, that eliminate the sulfur-containing compounds that cause the lingering garlic smell.
After encountering speculation that yogurt might have a deodorizing effect, Barringer and first author Manpreet Kaur, a graduate student in her lab, decided to try it out.
For each treatment experiment, the researchers placed equal amounts of raw garlic in glass bottles and confirmed that the clusters of troublesome sulfur-based volatiles were released at concentrations that would be detected by the human nose.
They used mass spectrometry to measure the concentrations of the volatile molecules in gaseous form present before and after each treatment.
The results showed that yogurt alone reduced 99 percent of the key odor-causing volatiles in raw garlic. When added separately, the fat, water and protein components of yogurt also had a deodorizing effect on raw garlic, but fat and protein performed better than water.
Proteins studied included various forms of whey, casein and milk proteins, all of which effectively deodorized garlic – likely due to their ability to capture the volatile molecules before they were released into the air. A casein micelle whey protein complex performed best.
“We know that protein binds flavor – this is often seen as a negative, especially when a food high in protein has less flavor. In this case it could be positive,” says Barringer.
Change in pH
Additional experiments in which the pH of the yogurt was changed to make it less acidic—from 4.4 pH to 7 pH—reduced the yogurt’s deodorizing effect on the garlic. However, changing the pH value of the water had no influence on the deodorizing effect of the water.
“That tells me it’s due to these proteins, because when you change the pH, the configuration of the proteins changes and their ability to bind. “But we should definitely take a look at these proteins,” says Barringer.
“It probably also depends on the protein, because different proteins react differently to pH. So that could be important as we study other proteins for their deodorizing effects on garlic.”
Also tests with fried garlic
Barringer and Kaur also tested the deodorizing effects of yogurt and its individual components on fried garlic and found that frying garlic alone significantly reduced most of garlic’s odor-causing volatile compounds.
Yogurt and its individual ingredients neutralized a lower percentage of volatile compounds from fried garlic compared to raw garlic, presumably because there were fewer volatiles to capture than in raw garlic, the researchers theorized.
The results provide a good basis for future studies analyzing a variety of proteins that could be made into a perfect product to reduce garlic breath and to verify the ability of yogurt to curb actual garlic breath in people.
Meanwhile, Barringer predicts that Greek yogurt, with a higher protein profile than the whole-milk yogurt used in the study, could be particularly effective at eliminating garlic odor.
Fruit-flavored yogurt would probably work too, she says—and whatever is used, it needs to be done quickly after ingesting raw garlic.
“When it comes to apples, we always said that you should eat them immediately,” explains the scientist. “The same probably applies to yogurt.” (ad)