“Sulfur compounds in garlic are released not only in the mouth but also in the gut, from which they seep into the lungs and skin,” says Victor Sierpina, MD, professor of family and integrative medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX. This makes freshening garlic breath more complex than merely cleansing the mouth—though it’s a good place to start. It’s handy that chefs decorate plates with parsley: Plant chemicals like chlorophyll and polyphenols bind to sulfur compounds in garlic and help neutralize odor. Other herbs, such as basil, thyme, cilantro, and mint have similar effects. Make sure you know about these other surprising causes of bad breath.
Milk effectively reduces garlic breath if you drink it before or during a meal, a Journal of Food Science study suggests. “The water [in the milk] acts like a mouth rinse, and the fat neutralizes sulfur,” says Kantha Shelke, PhD, food scientist and Institute of Food Technologists member. That’s why whole milk is more effective than skim.