It’s no secret that certain foods (looking at you, asparagus), can alter the smell of urine. But why exactly does this happen?
“Since urine is a way that our body gets rid of certain compounds we ingest or byproducts of what we eat or drink, there are many things that can change the color or smell of urine,” urologist and board-certified physician Lamia Gabal, M.D., tells mbg.
Asparagus, in particular, contains a compound called “asparagusic acid,” which, when excreted through urine, leads to that notorious odor. “Interestingly, this doesn’t happen to everyone,” Gabal says. “There is likely an enzyme that excretes this acid that is not present in some people.”
Brussels sprouts, onions, and garlic all produce the odorless gas methyl mercaptan when they’re digested, which can lead to odorous urine, urology expert Judson Brandeis, M.D., says. Cumin also contains sulfur compounds that can give urine a foul scent, he adds.
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