Does Asparagus Make Your Pee Smell? Here's Why (Or Why Not).

by Sara Farrell Baker
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I love asparagus. But I didn’t used to. When I met my husband, the only vegetables I ever ate were green beans, peas, or corn — and rarely at that. All from cans. I had never tried a strawberry or a sweet potato. I turned my nose up at salad because I tried a piece of iceberg lettuce when I was three and thought it was gross and never revisited those sad leaves again.

But my husband was a bit more well-rounded in his diet than me and loved fruits and vegetables. Over time, I tried more green stuff and other good shit. And wouldn’t you know? I actually started to like it.

Asparagus, the super thin kind, sautéed in olive oil with garlic salt and thyme until parts of it start to turn black, is one of my favorite things to eat. It is a frequent side dish in our home and I even make it as a snack sometimes. One year, while out to dinner for our anniversary, we ordered a bunch of tapas, one of them being asparagus with parmesan and a poached egg. It is one of the top-five best things I have ever eaten. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

Except nothing kills that post-date night glow like listening to my husband complain about asparagus pee. YUCK.

Even though I consume stacks on stacks of those delicious, green stalks, I’ve never thought it made my pee smell. I mean, at least not any more than pee already smells. There is nothing particularly pungent or even different about the smell after I snack on asparagus. So I’ll just take my husband at his word.

Turns out that asparagus pee funk is caused by asparagusic acid, a sulphurous chemical only found in (you guessed it) asparagus. When your body metabolizes the vegetable, it becomes stinky sulfur stuff.

But here’s where bodies get all wild and bonkers. Asparagus doesn’t make my pee smell… Or does it?

There aren’t a ton of scientific studies on aspara-pee. Apparently, scientists have more important shit to do. La dee da. The medical community is kind of split on what’s going on here.

Some believe that some people just don’t make smelly pee after they eat asparagus, because they don’t notice an odor in their own pee, but can detect one in the urine of other people.

Others believe that everyone has smelly pee, but some people (like yours truly) simply lack the ability to notice. This could be because of a mutation in a base-pair of genes responsible for olfactory receptors. In other words, my nose just can’t smell aspara-pee.

So here’s the mind fuck of it all: I either don’t pee right post-asparagus or I don’t smell things right. And same goes for 20-40% of the population who join me in wondering what all this fuss over stinky urine is about.

I’m pretty sure I’d still gobble up asparagus even if I did have to hold my nose while relieving myself, but I’m glad that I don’t need to think about it. It’s the little things in life, you know?