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Yogurt may be the perfect cure for garlic breath

In the battle against garlic breath, yogurt is now a strong contender. According to a recent study, whole milk plain yogurt is exceptionally effective in preventing the release of volatile compounds responsible for garlic’s distinctive smell.

The research team, led by Professor Sheryl Barringer at The Ohio State University, examined the ability of yogurt and its components – water, fat, and protein – to neutralize garlic odor. 

High-protein foods

Impressively, both fat and protein emerged as strong adversaries of garlic’s scent. This discovery has raised prospects of developing high-protein foods that can double as garlic breath combatants.

With the rising popularity of high-protein diets, Professor Barringer is optimistic about these findings. 

“High protein is a very hot thing right now – generally, people want to eat more protein,” said Professor Barringer. “An unintended side benefit may be a high-protein formulation that could be advertised as a breath deodorizer in addition to its nutritional claims.”

“I was more excited about the protein’s effectiveness because consumer advice to eat a high-fat food is not going to go over well.”

Deodorizing potential

Previous studies by Professor Barringer identified foods like apples, mint, lettuce, and milk as potential odor-fighting agents against garlic breath. The current study was prompted by speculations regarding yogurt’s deodorizing capabilities.

To gauge the deodorizing potential, equal amounts of raw garlic were placed in glass bottles, ensuring the release of recognizable concentrations of sulfur-based volatiles. 

Post-treatment measurements revealed a staggering 99% reduction of major odor-producing raw garlic volatiles by yogurt. While all components of yogurt showcased some deodorizing effect, fat and protein outperformed water.

Flavor-binding proteins

Further studies revealed the superior performance of a casein micelle-whey protein complex. “We know proteins bind flavor – a lot of times that’s considered a negative, especially if a food with high protein has less flavor. In this case, it could be a positive,” said Professor Barringer.

The researchers also evaluated the impact of pH levels on yogurt’s deodorizing efficacy. A reduced deodorizing effect was observed as the yogurt’s acidity was decreased. Interestingly, water’s deodorizing effect remained unchanged despite alterations in pH. 

“That’s telling me it goes back to those proteins, because as you change pH you change the configuration of proteins and their ability to bind. That said we definitely should be looking at these proteins,” explained Professor Barringer. 

“It probably depends on the protein, as well, because different proteins react differently to pH. So that may be an important thing as we look at other proteins for their garlic deodorization effect.”

Promising results

Yogurt’s efficiency was also tested on fried garlic. The results indicated a substantial reduction in garlic’s odor-causing volatile compounds upon frying. Though yogurt and its components demonstrated reduced efficacy on fried compared to raw garlic, the results were still promising.

Barringer foresees the potential of Greek yogurt, given its higher protein content, as an even more potent remedy for garlic breath. She advises immediate consumption post garlic intake for optimal results.

“With apples, we have always said to eat them immediately,” she said. “The same with yogurt is presumed to be the case – have your garlic and eat the yogurt right away.”

While these findings lay a solid groundwork, the next phase involves verifying yogurt’s effectiveness against actual garlic breath in humans. 

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