We may not talk about it publicly, but we’ve all noticed it at some point in our lives, eating certain foods can make our pee smell. When you take a step back and really think about it, it makes sense that what we eat could have an impact on how our urine smells. results in a compound that has a certain scent, it is natural for that scent to appear in your own pee when you go to the bathroom.
If you’ve ever wondered what foods can make your pee smell and why it does, read on to find out which 8 foods and drinks can do just that. Then, be sure to check out 11 Supplements Dieters Actually Take.
“Eating fish can create smelly urine for some,” she says Sheri Berger, RDN, CDCES. A condition called primary trimethylaminuria is associated with the inability to alter the chemical trimethylamine, resulting in urine that smells like rotting fish. Along with fish, other foods that contain trimethylamine include eggs and liver.
Yes, drinking too much of your beloved morning beverage can have some nasty effects on the scent of our urine, as this beverage “contains compounds known as methylxanthine,” she says. Jessie Husley, RD, LD. These compounds can “have a diuretic effect on the body,” potentially increasing urine output and potentially leading to a stronger urine odor. “Plus, the natural aroma of coffee and its ability to alter the pH balance of urine can contribute to a distinct scent,” she added.
Cumin is a popular spice that is a must in taco recipes and many Indian dishes. But consuming too much of this ingredient can result in urine with a distinct odor. Cumin “contains sulfur compounds that can contribute to changes in urine odor,” explains Husley. “When consumed, these sulfur compounds are metabolized by the body and excreted through the urine, potentially resulting in a slightly stronger or different odor.”
Garlic has natural sulfur-containing compounds that give this food several biological and potentially beneficial properties. Including this food in your diet “can result in a urine odor,” she says Kristen White, RDN, CLT. “Sulfur is beneficial to the body for daily detoxification purposes, but it leaves a not-so-pleasant smell.”
Perhaps the most commonly associated food when it comes to smelly urine, asparagus is the main culprit in this category. This is due to the breakdown of the asparagic acid found in this vegetable, which “is metabolized into sulfur-containing compounds when digested,” he says. Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT. “These compounds can give urine a distinctive, pungent odor,” she adds. While some sources estimate that only 50 percent of people have foul-smelling urine after eating asparagus, others argue that everyone experiences this, but not everyone has the ability to sense it.
Cabbage is classified as a cruciferous vegetable, and “eating cruciferous vegetables, like kale, can temporarily change the smell of your urine to a strong sulfur scent,” she says. Catherine Karnatz, MPH, RD. “This unusual aroma comes from a naturally occurring compound in cabbage called methyl mercaptan, which causes a distinct smell similar to rotten eggs to be released,” he adds.
There are many foods that can cause urine to smell bad. But there are also some options that can make your urine smell slightly sweet and, perhaps, more pleasant. Pineapple is one food that can help you experience better smelling pee, if that’s your goal.
“Pineapple is higher in natural sugar than other fruits and can make various bodily fluids, such as urine, smell better,” says Berger.
Since drinking cranberry juice can lower the pH of your urine, drinking it can reduce an ammonia-like odor that some people experience in their urine, potentially making your pee smell better. Just make sure you opt for a cranberry juice that doesn’t both made with added sugars.
Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in the profession for nearly 20 years. Read more about Lauren
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