Science Says Eating This Can Make You Smell Better

Body odor is the worst. It usually hits you strongest when you're already stressed or rushing around or just having a rough day. Then you realize your deodorant has worn thin — or, worse, you forgot to put some on — and you're sure everyone around you is trying not to crinkle their nose. Try as the fragrance industry might, there is no way to stop body odor entirely.

There is some hope, however. In January of 2017 researchers published a paper in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior that found some foods make sweat smell better. Carried out in Australia at Macquarie University, the study asked 43 non-smoking men to submit sweat samples and food logs chronicling everything they ate during the study.

The men were asked to shower using only water and to avoid scented products for the first 24 hours. For the next 24 hours they were asked to wear a new cotton t-shirt and to workout for at least an hour, then skip their post-gym shower. After the 24 hours were up, the men sealed their shirts in bags so that lab techs could take sweat samples.

This is where the study might gross a few people out: Nine women were then recruited to sniff the sweat samples and judge them from most appealing to least appealing.

The Results

It turned out that men who ate a lot of fruits and veggies smelled better than those who didn't. Some women even referred to the best sweat as "sweet" or "floral". The worst-smelling sweat belonged to men who ate a lot of carbs. Men who ate mostly eggs, meat, and tofu ranked in the middle.

Researchers theorized that men who eat more produce have a higher level of carotenoids in their system which signals to the sniffing potential mate, that they are healthier than their carb-loving counterparts. Carotenoids, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, are red, orange, and yellow pigments found in plants. Most research on them is still ongoing or inconclusive, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine which lists almost 400 current studies involving carotenoids. 

While the Macquarie study has promise, its results need to be checked as well. This is largely because they tested the sweat of 43 men, but only had nine women rating the results. There also is no information on the orientation of the women rating the sweat, which may or may not have an effect on the test results.

Science still has a way to go before they can perfect our approach to body odor. But loading up on fruits and vegetables in the meantime isn't a bad idea. After all, they have a ton of other benefits, leaving you in a win-win situation.