What Causes Garlic Breath? (and How to Beat It)

June 13, 2014 Updated: June 13, 2014

We are talking garlic. It’s good for your taste buds and good for your body. But you have got to wonder, how could something that adds such a brilliant flavor to food leave you with such a rank break after you eat it? Here is a chemical explanation.


Garlic contains four major volatile organic compounds (shown in the above picture) that are responsible for that notorious garlic breath. Interestingly enough, none of these compounds are present in garlic until it is crushed up or chopped.


When garlic’s structure is damaged, enzymes convert the compound Allin into Allicin which is responsible for garlic’s distinct smell.

Allicin is then broken down into the four compounds that were previously mentioned.


Once you take your first bite of garlic, the Allyl Methyl Sulfide compound is broken down in your body much more slowly than the rest of the compounds, so it is mostly responsible for the garlic breath. This compound is then passed into your bloodstream and organs. It is then excreted when you sweat, breath, and when you have to use the bathroom.


But hey, if you are worried about garlic breath, try eating parsley or drinking milk. Apparently, these two foods are actually known to reduce garlic breath.

There is also more to garlic than its delicious flavour and accompanying bad breath. You may have heard people tell you that garlic is good for your health. Well, they are right. Garlic carries antibacterial properties, and three compounds in particular do the dirty work (diallyl sulfide, diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide). Sulfur containing organic compounds like these can penetrate the cell membranes of bacteria cells and combine with certain enzymes or proteins to alter their structure. This will ultimately damage the cells. Also, along with these organo-sulfur bacterial assassins, allicin has similar antibacterial properties.