6 Foods That Naturally Freshen Your Breath

These simple staples will have you ready to pucker up.

Even if you don’t subscribe to all of the Valentine’s Day hoopla and fanfare, February 14 is a great excuse to splurge on an expensive and decadent meal with the one you love (or lust after). But sometimes the most luxe of ingredients (we’re looking at you, black garlic, truffle, and enticing, international spices) come with a pretty bad case of stink, and no one wants to kiss their Cupid goodnight with a bad taste in their mouth. Luckily, you can strategically choose menu items that will help you freshen up, transforming garlic breath into something cleaner and more kissable. Ken Immer, the CCHE Chief Culinary Officer at Culinary Health Solutions gave us the inside scoop on what foods you should chomp on for a better makeout sesh this V-Day:

1.  Parsley

You already know it can help liven up chicken noodle soup and add some dimension to your tomato sauce, but this herb can also cleanse your gut. “Parsley has quite a few volatile oils to which its very strong scent can be attributed to, and one flavonoid present in the oils has a very reactive property that can help to suppress odors from your stomach when consumed,” Immer explains.

2.  Lemons and Limes

When your waiter asks if you’d care for sparkling or tap, surprise ‘em by asking for lemon (or some lime) with whichever one you choose. Why? Immer says this citrus standby has many helpful qualities, including almost-instantly making your breath sweeter. “In lemons there is the lemon oil called Citrus Limonum that has a naturally strong fragrance that can help with immediate breath freshening,” he explains. “What is even more interesting is that there are some special flavonoids that exist in lime juice that actually have antibiotic effects that can help to kill bacteria that cause bad breath.”

3.  Mint

This one is probably a no-brainer, considering most gums at the checkout line are some sort of mint combination. But do you know why this cool leafy green has so many freshening powers? “Mint oil (Mentha Piperita) has well documented anti-bacterial properties, and similar to the lemon oil, its strong scent has a natural masking effect for bad breath. The menthol contained in mint has a relaxing effect on your gut as well, which is why it is often prescribed for dyspepsia. If you’re not burping, your breath is going to be fresher,” Immer explains. “Finally the rosmarinic acid contained in mint encourages opening up airways for easy breathing which can help you breathe through your nose, and not your mouth.”

4.  Yogurt

It’s not the most decadent of dessert choices when it’s listed beside cult favorites like creme brulee and chocolate lava cake, but opting for some yogurt and berries before you head home with your honey might do more wonders for both your breath and, well, your sex life. “Yogurt has a more long-term effect on your breath, as it’s usually associated with a strong smell of it’s own that might not be what you’re looking for with fresh breath immediately,” Immer says. “Much like mint’s ability to relax the gut, yogurt has been shown to also have this property, and the probiotic bacteria that populate only cultured yogurt can have an effect of speeding up your digestive tract, which keeps food from putrefying in your gut which can be one of the sources of super-chronic-halitosis.”

5.  Apples

Childhood’s most treasured fruit doesn’t just keep the doctor away — it can also keep a dry spell away, with its ability to help you produce the good kind of bacteria to makes your digestive tract healthy, regular, and strong. “Apples also help to keep your mouth moist, which is one way to help avoid the bad breath associated with a dry mouth, but after eating carbohydrates, eating an apple can expose your mouth to an enzyme inhibitor that will stop the breakdown of any leftover starches in your mouth to sugar, which is the food for some bad breath bacteria, and can potentially keep you fresher if you’re otherwise out of options,” Immer says.

6.  Berries

“Blueberries and raspberries both contain the same enzyme inhibitor that apples do that can have a similar effect, and since they are both low in simple sugars themselves, they can potentially offer a cleaner mouth that has just enjoyed a carb-laden meal,” Immer says. “Strawberries also contain compounds that improve digestion that can add to the long-term effects of better fresher breath because of a well-functioning intestine”

Perhaps that why chocolate-covered strawberries are always associated with romance?

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