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Science Explains Why Garlic Breath Is the Worst

Rachel Tepper Paley
June 10, 2014

Why does garlic make your breath—or worse, your whole body—stink after you’ve chowed down on a few pungent cloves? The web series Reactions recently partnered with science website Compound Interest to explain the phenomenon in the video above.

Basically, we learn that garlic contains four major (and hard to pronounce) volatile organic compounds—diallyl disulfide, allyl methyl sulfide, allyl methyl disulfide, and allyl mercaptan—none of which are present in garlic until it’s crushed up or chopped.

When this happens, the garlic’s molecular structure is damaged and various chemical reactions occur. One of the resulting compounds, allyl methyl sulfide, is broken down much slower than the other garlic compounds. That’s the sucker that’s "mostly responsible for the garlic breath," says the narrator. "This compound is then passed into your blood stream and organs and is excreted when you sweat, breathe, and when you have to pee."

How does one combat garlic breath? Drink milk or eat parsley, suggests the video. (Or find someone who doesn’t mind the smell.)

[via Laughing Squid]