I've got a problem I hope you can help me with. I'm something of a goober connoisseur, and I'll eat anything that contains peanuts - peanut butter, brittle, cups, cookies, candy bars or, of course, good old-fashioned roasted peanuts. But the issue is that, as you might expect, it's tough to get rid of peanut breath, even after brushing. Is there something I'm not doing right?
G.W. Carver, Louisville, KY
I'm glad you asked G.W. (I'm going to assume that's a pseudonym, and that the initials stand for George Washington, you wag.) Peanuts are an infamous cause of bad breath, though it's not immediately apparent why. It takes a little scientific analysis to show just how your beloved goober peas can cause oral odor. For now, just keep in mind that help is out there, in the form of specialty oral care probiotics.
Roasted peanuts smell delicious, yet when we eat them, our breath immediately goes bad. How does this work? Well, it's no huge surprise. After all, coffee and garlic can smell tantalizing, but once on your breath, their odors are absolutely repulsive.
In peanuts, several things are at work. For starters, peanuts are a natural source of choline, an essential nutrient that's also found in liver, eggs, broccoli and wheat germ, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. If not broken down properly by your metabolism, this substance can give your breath (and sweat) a fishy odor.
Then there's protein. Peanuts are a solid source of it, but quite a bit of peanuts' proteins end up smeared over your teeth and gums. This gives oral bacteria sustenance, allowing them to stink up your breath. The next time you're thinking of buying a bag of roasted nuts at the ballpark, rinse with an oral care probiotics kit first, and maybe again afterward. This will neutralize odors and load your palate with a strain of microbes that muscles out the other, odor-causing varieties.
Finally, delicious as peanuts are, they contain several aromatic compounds that leave a funk in your mouth. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, these molecules include:
- Acetic acid. Also known as vinegar.
- Methanethiol. This unpleasant substance is more commonly associated with the smell of rotten cabbage.
- 3-isopropyl-2-methoxypyrazine. This little doozy also accounts for the odor given off by Asian lady beetles, which are notorious for their strong stink.