Surprising Foods That Can Cause Bad Breath

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can come out of nowhere and linger for hours. It can be embarrassing and frustrating to deal with. If you’ve researched this topic before, then you know that what foods you eat plays the biggest factor in how your breath smells. Foods that contain sulfur, high amounts of fiber, protein, carbs, and sugar all contribute to the growth of odor-causing bacteria in the mouth. Some foods, such as chicken and peaches, have large amounts of sulfur—which is absorbed into the bloodstream, so it comes out of your pores, emits straight from your lungs, and lingers in the mouth.

At first glance, it can seem like every food under the sun will give you bad breath! However, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables won’t. Some, like apples, will even directly combat the causes of bad breath. Many of the foods on this list cause bad breath because they are notorious for getting stuck in your teeth. Regular flossing, brushing, and even just staying hydrated is a big help in cutting down on bad breath. The easiest way to fight bad breath is to be careful about what you eat.

Some foods are obvious culprits for causing bad breath and some are sneaky, making your breath smell bad for hours. You never know what foods might contain high amounts of sugar or sulfur that will lead to you having bad breath. Here’s a list of 30 foods that give you bad breath.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is good for a healthy diet, but it can be one of the sneaky foods giving you bad breath. Fruit already has a high sugar content, but dried fruit often has a coating of sugar to reduce moisture. The dried fruit can also get stuck in your teeth. Sugar and food residue in your teeth are the perfect breeding grounds for odor-causing bacteria.

Tomato Sauce

If you use a tomato base in your pasta sauce, it might be giving you bad breath. The acidity and sugar in tomatoes, much like citrus fruits, is the perfect breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria.


Milk and cheese can give you bad breath from the amino acids in dairy reacting with your saliva. The result is a foul odor similar to spoiled milk. Milk does a body good, but it gives you terrible breath.


Alcohol causes dry mouth. Without saliva to break down food particles in the mouth, odor-causing bacteria can multiply and give you a bad case of stinky breath.

Citrus Fruits

The bacteria that causes bad breath thrives in acidic environments. Fruits are healthy and have natural sugars, but the acidity and sugar content gives bacteria a place to grow. Fruit juices aren’t your friend either.


A high-protein diet is good for those who are working out and trying to build muscle, but it can also give you stinky breath. Your body produces ammonia when digesting protein, which is a compound that smells like cat pee.

A high-protein diet can cause you to put off a lot of ammonia, which escapes through your mouth, making you smell like a litterbox

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is ooey-gooey goodness, but it can stay stuck in your teeth for hours. The paste-like texture of peanut butter makes it hard for saliva to break down. This gives bacteria the perfect chance to grow in your mouth and make your breath stink.


We all know sugar causes cavities, but did you know it also causes bad breath? Bacteria loves to feast on sugar, allowing the odor-causing sulfur compounds to flourish and make your breath smell rotten.


Potatoes are high in fiber and starch, which is good for the digestive system but bad for your breath. The carb content in potatoes can lead to fermentation and gas, both of which can give you bad breath


The breakdown of corn causes dimethyl sulfide to be given off. This leads to the fishy smell often associated with bad breath. Corn also had a tendency to get stuck in your teeth. Food stuck in your mouth also causes bad breath because of the bacteria feasting on it.


Eggs contain an amino acid called cysteine, which breaks down into odor-causing hydrogen sulfide. This gives off a stinky, rotten egg smell that lingers in your mouth.