You should know, you're a medic: Why does urine smell odd after eating asparagus?
- By: Roger JG Stevens
Why does urine smell odd after eating asparagus? Roger Stevens investigates Asparagus, or Asparagus officinalis, is a member of the lily family and grows throughout central and southern Europe, north Africa and west and central Asia. The British asparagus season is short, with asparagus being available during the early summer from late April to early July.1
In the 18th century, a physician to the French royal family wrote in his Treatise on all sorts of foods that asparagus “eaten to Excess… causes filthy and disagreeable Smell in the Urine.”2 The smell cannot be noticed in raw or cooked asparagus, so it is believed that the body converts a compound within asparagus into a metabolite, which can then be smelled in the urine. The odour is often described as the smell of rotten or boiling cabbage, or even ammonia, and is believed to be due to the presence of methyl mercaptan,