We all know we’re supposed to eat well for a multitude of health and fitness reasons. But did you know that what you eat also affects how we smell?
Well, a recent study found that not only does food affect our personal scent, but women prefer the body odor of men who ate a lot of fruits and vegetables more than men who ate a lot of refined carbohydrates, like pasta or bread.
“We’ve known for a while that odor is an important component of attractiveness, especially for women,” Ian Stephen of Macquarie University in Australia, told NPR. He is one of the authors of the study, and studies genetics, evolution and psychology.
There is an evolutional standpoint to smell. Scientists say that our sweat can help signal our health status, which could possible play a role in attracting a mate. Body odor is created when the bacteria on our skin metabolize the compounds that come out of our sweat glands.
For this study, the researchers gathered “healthy, young men,” who filled out questionnaires about their eating patterns. Then, they assessed the men’s skin using a spectrophotometer, which uses light to measure color. NPR writes that when people eat a lot of colorful vegetables, “their skin takes on the hue of carotenoids, the plant pigments that are responsible for bright red, yellow and orange foods.” Stephen explained that this is because the caroteniods get deposited in our skin.
Up next? The men were told to put on clean t-shirts and do some exercise.
And finally: women were asked to sniff the sweat (scientifically of course).
“We asked the women to rate how much they liked it, how floral, how fruity,” and a bunch of other descriptors, Stephen explained to NPR.
Though the study was small, the results were pretty consistent: Women thought men who ate more vegetables smelled nicer.
Meanwhile, meat tended to make a man’s odor more “intense” but not better or worse.
This was not the first study to look into diet and body odor. A study back in 2006 from that women preferred the small of men who ate a non-meat diet, “characterized by increased intakes of eggs, cheese, soy, fruit and vegetables.”