An appealing reason to eat your vegetables, men: According to a study conducted at Macquarie University in Australia, women think you smell much better when you do. That doesn’t mean you should start spraying yourself down with cauliflower cologne, but you should probably consider adding a few more of those veggies into your diet. Foods that made men smell good also included tofu, eggs, meat, fat, and fruit.
Diets rich in refined carbohydrates, however, resulted in a reportedly unpleasant odor.
While the study itself is a bit of a wacky idea, these results actually make a lot of evolutionary sense. Men who eat a diet rich in protein, fat, fruit, and vegetables likely invest more in wellness and are generally in a state of better health. Men who eat mostly refined carbs, however, may be missing out on some of the crucial nutrients found in vegetables — not exactly the state of optimal fitness.
Women’s smell sensitivity could just be biology looking out for their best reproductive interests.
The study ensured that the only factor affecting women’s perception of smell was the men’s diets — not their state of health, hygiene practices, or appearance. The study selectively investigated the odors of a group of healthy men. They inspected the men’s skin in search of carotenoids — compounds from vegetables that leave behind an orange hue. The researchers used these observations to devise how many vegetables the men had really been eating.
They were told to exercise to get them nice and sweaty — an ideal state for detecting odor. The women waited, then took a sniff.
“We asked the women to rate how much they liked it, how floral, how fruity,” explained Ian Stephen, one of the researchers involved in the study.
The men didn’t smell exactly like the food they ate — that’s not how it works. If you eat an onion, you’re not going to sweat the stench of an onion. Instead, the scent we emit is created when bacteria metabolize compounds on our skin. When we sweat residual carbohydrates, our sweat evidently smells especially repellant.
So, for the men out there: If you’re headed out to a date, eat a salad for lunch. But don’t eat too many vegetables — that’s one of the many things that can unfortunately give you crazy amounts of bloat.