Garlic can bring people together and push people away. Its curse is that it smells delicious in the kitchen and atrocious when wafting from your mouth.

Even after a thorough brushing, the unpleasant, sulfurous scent can sometimes hang on your breath relentlessly.

Sheryl Barringer is here to help.

A food scientist at The Ohio State University, Barringer has identified a number of scientific solutions to garlic breath over the years, including the acids in apples and mint, and the fat in milk.

Now, she's identified another possible candidate: yogurt.

By adding yogurt to a jar of sliced raw garlic in experiments, Barringer and her colleague, PhD student Manpreet Kaur, found the sulfurous gases inside the container were reduced by 99 percent.

Even when the pair used garlic that had been fried in oil, the yogurt still reduced the smelliest compounds by up to 94 percent.

The slight difference in effect is probably due to the fact that frying garlic already reduces the concentration of almost all the major odor-producing volatile compounds.

To figure out why yogurt does much the same thing, Berringer and Kaur decided to break the dairy product down into its main ingredients.

In further experiments, both butter fat and milk protein were found to dampen the smelly volatiles of garlic more effectively than water. Both ingredients are apparently "excellent treatments" for these smelly compounds.

The findings line up with some of Barringer's previous research, which found that high-fat milk reduces the stink of garlic breath more than fat-free milk.

But the findings on protein were particularly enlightening.

"I was more excited about the protein's effectiveness because consumer advice to eat a high-fat food is not going to go over well," says Barringer.

"High protein is a very hot thing right now – generally, people want to eat more protein."

When Barringer and Kaur played around with the pH of yogurt – which can influence how well proteins bind to volatiles – they found that more acidic yogurt was better at dampening the smelly volatiles in raw and fried garlic.

This suggests that proteins really do play an important role in cutting through garlic breath and are part of what makes yogurt so effective.

"We know proteins bind flavor – a lot of times that's considered a negative, especially if a food with high protein has less flavor," explains Barringer.

"In this case, it could be a positive."

The current research did not test the effect of yogurt on the actual smell of garlic breath in people. That still needs to be verified, but Berringer says that if the solution were to work in practice, the yogurt would need to be eaten shortly after the garlic.

"With apples, we have always said to eat them immediately," she advises. "The same with yogurt is presumed to be the case – have your garlic and eat the yogurt right away."

The study was published in Molecules.