Onion and garlic are accompaniments used in several cuisines across the world for the flavor and aroma they add to food. From Italian pastas to Chinese noodles and Indian biryanis, onion and garlic are ubiquitously used. They contribute to a healthy heart and are loaded with antioxidants (especially garlic) that have been associated with many possible health benefits.
However, many people avoid eating both onion and garlic due to the embarrassing fetid odor that persists for hours on the breath after consuming them. Chemically, onions and garlic have similar compounds that give rise to their peculiar odors.
- Alliin: All plants closely related to onions – leeks, shallots, garlic, and chives – contain thioallyl compounds or alliin. When cut or crushed, the alliin (an amino acid) within garlic or onion is converted by an enzymatic reaction into allicin. Allicin quickly breaks down into a range of sulfur-containing compounds, several of which contribute to the “garlic-onion-breath” effect.1 Garlic contains by far the highest concentration of alliin. However, a garlic bulb exhibits little or no odor until it is cut or crushed.
- Allyl Methyl Sulfide: When garlic or onion is chopped or crushed, the compound allyl methyl sulfide is released. When ingested, this compound is absorbed into the bloodstream, exhaled by the lungs, and even emanated through pores on the skin. It can, thus, cause your sweat and breath to smell for hours afterward.2
- Cysteine Sulfoxide: Both these allium members contain the sulfuric compound cysteine sulfoxide that immediately gives rise to the sulfuric odor on the breath.
1. Cooking Method
For Garlic: The way we cook garlic affects the impact it has on our breath. Slice off the end of the garlic bulb and peel it. Cut it vertically in half. Then simply take out the little stem in the middle from both sides of the bulb.
For Onions: You can slice onions and soak them in water for some time. You can also soak them in lime juice or vinegar solution.
Most recipes that use onions and garlic also use parsley as parsley neutralizes their pungent odors. You can also try chewing on parsley after eating garlic and onion to minimize the the odor.
Lemon is very effective in neutralizing the odor from garlic and onions. It can kill bacteria in the mouth that cause bad breath.3
Try sucking on a lemon wedge after eating onion and garlic. You can also use a solution of lemon juice to rinse your mouth thoroughly 2 or 3 times a day until the odor has gone completely.
Tea, especially green and peppermint, contains polyphenols – powerful antioxidants – that can destroy the sulfur compounds that garlic and onion produce. This in turn reduces bad breath. Drink tea while or after eating garlic and onions.4
Milk can also neutralize garlic-and-onion breath. The fat content in milk neutralizes the sulfur compounds present in onions, which cause bad breath.
Also, milk acts as a natural mouth rinse. Drink it before or after a meal that contains garlic and onions. Whole milk is more effective than skimmed milk.
Apples are another effective remedy to combat onion breath. Natural enzymes in apples help break down sulfur compounds and, thus, help fight onion breath.5
After eating food that has garlic or onion in it, eat an apple to prevent bad breath. You can also drink a glass of fresh apple juice.
7. Coffee Beans
Various people have reported that chewing coffee beans and then spitting them out helps reduce onion and garlic breath.
8. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another good remedy for bad breath caused due to onions and garlic. It can neutralize bad breath, maintain the pH balance of the mouth, and inhibit the growth of bacteria.
You can mix a teaspoon each of baking soda and sea salt in a glass of lukewarm water. Use this solution as a natural mouthwash several times a day to control nasty breath.
The strong aroma of cardamom can help immediately fight garlic-and-onion breath. It will mask the odor and freshen up your breath. Chew some cardamom, or drink 1 to 2 cups of cardamom tea.
10. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar also helps neutralize onion and garlic breath. Also, it helps destroy bacteria in the mouth that contribute to bad breath.
You can mix 1/2 a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of lukewarm water and use this solution as a mouthwash.
You can eat vegetables, such as carrots, right after eating a meal with garlic or onions to help counter the smell.
Remedies For Repulsive Perspiration And Smelly Hands
Apart from onion and garlic breath, one also needs to deal with the odor in perspiration. Ensure you stay in a cool environment. Try not to work yourself into a sweat. Have a shower with a squeeze of lime or rose petals. This is a good way to get rid of the strong odor from perspiration.
If you have been chopping onion and garlic and want to get rid of the odor from your hands, use a soap or hand wash. Remember to also squeeze drops of lemon on to your hands when rinsing. Wash off. Remember that onion and garlic odors do not last beyond 6–8 hours and eventually wear off.
|↑1||Eric Block. The Chemistry of Garlic and Onions. Scientific American. 2014.|
|↑2||Blankenhorn MA, Richards CE. Garlic Breath Odor. JAMA. 1936.|
|↑3||Oikeh, Ehigbai I., Ehimwenma S. Omoregie, Faith E. Oviasogie, and Kelly Oriakhi. “Phytochemical, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities of different citrus juice concentrates.” Food science & nutrition 4, no. 1 (2016): 103-109.|
|↑4||Lodhia, Parth, Ken Yaegaki, Ali Khakbaznejad, Toshio Imai, Tsutomu Sato, Tomoko Tanaka, Takatoshi Murata, and Takeshi Kamoda. “Effect of green tea on volatile sulfur compounds in mouth air.” Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology 54, no. 1 (2008): 89-94.|
|↑5||Garlic Breath? Science Says Eat an Apple. The Ohio State University.|