Aside from tooth decay, gum disease, and other consequences of terrible parenting, the most common reason Americans go to the dentist is to solve the mystery of bad breath. Some patients genuinely suffer from bacterial halitosis, but most carriers of stank-mouth forgot they had a tuna sandwich an hour ago on their lunch break, and are just out there ruining the mood of everyone they come into contact with. So, to help you keep your breath as gloriously fresh as the factory where they make Listerine, we've ranked the top eight foods to avoid (beer is excluded, because we absolve it of all sins) to ensure your mouth is as clean as a dental assistant's gumline.
The 8 foods that give you the worst breath, ranked with the power of science
8. Indian curry
Despite some proposed antibacterial qualities, the hard-hitting spice of Indian curry demands a fistful of fennel, lest you want to smell like a slumdog of the not-millionaire variety.
This Mediterranean delicacy pairs spitted, high-fat meat like lamb with stinky dairy products (feta, tzatziki), a healthy dose of acidic tomatoes, and the Pig-Pen of the vegetable kingdom: the onion.
Coffee smells great... and then it hits your mouth. At that point, the acidity and natural enzymes in the coffee combine with your saliva in a bad, bad way. It neutralizes the acid in your stomach, which sends up some gastric juice reinforcements that belong nowhere near your tongue.
Your roast beef sandwich gets half of its flavor from horseradish sauce, and horseradish sauce gets most all of its flavor from isothiocyanate, a chemical compound in the plant with a scent so putrid that it's a natural defense against animals, and also people who might want to be your friend.
Hippies, Whole Foods shoppers, and hippie Whole Foods shoppers swear by this fizzy fermented tea, and the acrid stench of kombucha after-burps makes you want to swear at hippies. And though even the purest 'bucha will give you bad breath, should your mouth smell like nail polish remover, it's probably due to foreign bacteria creating aldehyde. Or you may smell like an orange gone bad -- another completely normal side effect.
Much like its stinky cousin garlic, onions contain the amino acid allin. When cut, allin turns to propenyl sulfenic acid, which is thought to be the chemical responsible for the vegetable's eye-watering effects. It also is the chemical responsible for your mouth smelling like a rotting catcher's mitt.
2. Tuna sandwiches
The tuna sandwich is the absolute pinnacle of fishiness. It's the sandwich equivalent of a stink bomb. That sour, fishy smell occurs when seafood starts to oxidize, a common result of canning processes. Tuna packed in extra virgin olive oil is the least smelly, but regardless of how it's canned, something about that preservative-packed albacore seemingly permeates entire city blocks.
Horrid-smelling enough to turn off even vampires, garlic is traditionally deemed the king of stinky foods, and that's not just because the taste is hard to wash out of your mouth. When your body digests garlic, it absorbs allyl methyl sulfide into your bloodstream, which is transferred to the lungs and then to the air immediately surrounding the person you're talking to. If that weren't enough, the gas is also released through your skin. This triple threat of mouth/lung/skin stink earns garlic the rankest position in our power ranking.