Are you going to end this meal with an up-close-and-personal hug goodbye -- or perhaps even a kiss? If so, you'll need a superhero to fight the villain in your mouth, bacteria. Bacteria accumulates on the bits of food left in your mouth after a meal, releasing sulfuric compounds that make your verbal communication stink like the trash. Can nature's remedies -- parsley and mint -- fight your bad breath? Let's take a look.
Parsley might seem like a useless garnish on your plate that you toss to the side before digging in to your spaghetti. But given the amount of garlic and onion in your sauce, you might actually want to save that sprig of green. While studies haven't exactly shown that chewing parsley leaves will sweep odor from your mouth completely, it may have at least some initial effect on your bad breath [source: O'Connor]. What's not disputed is that parsley contains chlorophyll, and clorophyll is believed to have anti-bacterial properties [source: Ursell]. In other words, it's a potential deodorizer, and in the absence of your toothbrush and some toothpaste, chewing parsley is worth a try. Some think swallowing that fresh parsley will even deodorize your belly, which could prevent bad breath [source: Bowden].
The other potential all-natural warrior against your smelly breath is fresh mint. If you find mint leaves on a dessert plate or in your beverage, save them for the end of your meal. Besides easing indigestion and heartburn, mint may fight the bacteria in your mouth that cause bad breath. As with parsley, mint contains chlorophyll, and the act of chewing the leaves may help scrape the odor-causing bacteria from your teeth. Additionally, mint will leave its signature minty-fresh taste behind. A hot mint tea is a great way to end a meal with fresher breath.
Some oral care experts recommend these natural bad breath remedies over artificial ones because artificial remedies like gum or candy can make the problem worse. For example, the sugar in some breath mints actually causes bacteria in the mouth to reproduce. And some breath fresheners, like mouthwash, contain alcohol, which will dry out the mouth. Dry mouth leads to bad breath.
For more on how to keep your mouth fresh and clean, click through the links below.
- Bowden, Johnny. "The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth." Fair Winds Press. 2008. http://www.amazon.com/Most-Effective-Natural-Cures-Earth/dp/1592332919
- Christensen, Emma. "Bad Breath? 6 Natural Breath Fresheners." The kitchn. June 28, 2010. (Sept. 14, 2011) http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/tips-techniques/bad-breath-6-natural-breath-fresheners-119025
- Christensen, Emma. "What's the Deal with Garnish?" The kitchn. April 22, 2010. (Sept. 14, 2011) http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/cooking-discussion/whats-the-deal-with-garnish--114758
- "Chlorophyll." WebMD.com. 2009. (Sept. 19, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-712-CHLOROPHYLL.aspx?activeIngredientId=712&activeIngredientName=CHLOROPHYLL
- "Mint - Peppermint and Spearmint." What's Cooking America. 2011. (Sept. 14, 2011) http://whatscookingamerica.net/mint.htm
- O'Connor, Anahad. "The Claim: Eating Parsley Can Eliminate Bad Breath." The New York Times. April 27, 2009. (Sept. 22, 2011) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article1603333.ece
- "Parsley." The World's Healthiest Foods. 2011. (Sept. 14, 2011) http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=100
- Phaneuf, Holly. "Does parsley or chlorophyll clean your breath?" Ask Me How It Works. 2011. (Sept. 19, 2011) http://drholly.typepad.com/question_and_answer_forum/2005/12/does_parsley_or.html
- Preus, Mary. "The Northwest Herb Lover's Handbook." Sasquatch Books. 2000 (Sept. 22, 2011) http://books.google.com/books?id=Zm6rk92jVCUC&pg=PA130&dq=mint,+chlorophyll&hl=en&ei=C457TuaII8yBtgfgh30&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CEsQ6AEwBjge#v=onepage&q=mint%2C%20chlorophyll&f=false
- Ursell, Amanda. "Did I mention that your breath stinks?" The Times Online. April 3, 2007. (Sept. 22, 2011) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article1603333.ece
- "What Causes Bad Breath?" TeensHealth.com. November 2008. (Sep. 19, 2011) http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/take_care/halitosis.html
- "What is in Traditional Breath Fresheners?" OraMD.com. 2011. (Sep. 14, 2011) http://www.oramd.com/naturalbreathfresheners/