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Does eating vegetables make men appear more sexy to their partners?

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Possibly Not.

Some studies conducted by some psychologists around the world claim that females found the sweat produced by males with a higher vegetable diet pleasant and attractive whereas some specialists counterclaim that eating vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables give off a stinky body odor.

This claim relies heavily on a study conducted in Australia, which only sampled 45 participants – a small group –to assert that all men who eat vegetables smell better to all women all the time. In order to accept this claim as valid, more studies would need to be conducted and their results replicated.

Even though there are studies on the subject that can sway one's opinion, this is a very subjective question – what smells sweet to someone could smell rotten to someone else. Due to the subjectivity of this question, and after all the research, we decided the answer to this question is "possibly".

Origin and Prevalence

It is unclear exactly where and when the correlation between men eating vegetables more and being more attractive came from. The earliest reference was in the Washington Post in 1991. It mostly refenced how an older man kept his appearance young by constantly eating fruits and vegetables and keeping a healthy lifestyle. "Sexy" is not a standard that can be universally applied. Some may see facial hair as sexy, and others may not. It is all subjective.

Other instances where this was reported

The claim that eating more vegetables makes men appear sexier to women was most recently circulated in August of 2017. An article published in Food & Wine on August 14, 2017 was headlined "Men Who Eat Fruits and Vegetables Smell More Attractive." That article links to a NPR story from earlier the same day, "Men, Listen Up: Women Like The Smell Of Guys Who Eat A Certain Diet." The NPR story cites both the Australian study (Diet Quality and the Attractiveness of Male Body Odor) and a study published in 2006 (The Effect of Meat Consumption on Body Odor Attractiveness), which found that women preferred the odors of men with vegetarian diets that included the consumption of lots of eggs, soy, fruit, and vegetables. Both studies were published in reputable peer-reviewed scientific journals but sampled small numbers of people.

The week of August 14, 2017, other sources like The Cut, Huffington Post, delish.com, and the Sydney Morning Herald all highlighted the same claim from the Australian study.

Issues and Analysis

  • The department of psychology in Macquarie University did a study on Diet quality and the attractiveness of male body odor. Male participants provided axillary sweat samples and dietary information. Female participants then evaluated these samples on several affective, qualitative and psychophysical dimensions. The skin spectrophotometer measure indicative of greater fruit and vegetable intake, was significantly associated with more pleasant smelling sweat (with more floral, fruity, sweet and medicinal qualities), independent of sweat intensity. Self-report dietary data revealed that fat, meat, egg and tofu intake was associated with more pleasant smelling sweat, and greater carbohydrate intake with stronger smelling less pleasant sweat. These data parallel facial judgments, in which yellower more carotenoid rich skin, is found to be more attractive. This study was done in 2017.
  • 45 Australian male participants, ages 18 to 30, were asked to fill out a 242 question food frequency survey and health and disorder survey. Healthy participants then donated anxiety swear samples. Female participants would later smell the samples and rate them on affective, qualitative, and psychophysical dimensions. "The primary aim of this study was to determine whether human body odor – axillary sweat – is judged to have more positive attributes when a person's diet is richer in fruit and vegetables — and therefore richer in carotenoids." (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1090513816301933)

This study then linked the intake of fat, meat, eggs, and tofu were linked to generally pleasant odors, while fruits and vegetables were linked to pleasant floral odors. A large amount of red meat however, led to a not as pleasant smell as white meat. From a biological standpoint, sweat is used to convey health status and prevent interbreeding. A sign of good health in birds and fish in high carotenoid levels. Carotenoids are a vitamin found in plant cell walls and are related to yellow pigmentation in skin, which this study found to be more attractive. A diet higher vegetables would then yield both a higher carotenoid level and are generally linked to a healthier life, which can both be linked to more pleasant anxiety sweat. Thus, a diet high in vegetables leads to more attractive/sexy smelling sweat.

  • Dr Nitin Kumar a board-certified gastroenterologist from IL claims that eating cruciferous vegetables can give off a body odor. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, bokchoy, among other cruciferous produce can be odor offenders on two fronts. First off, these veggies contain sulfur, a stinky compound that smells like rotten eggs. Eating them "may increase the availability of sulfur to skin bacteria, allowing them to make more sulfur-containing compounds," Kumar explains, meaning you may start producing that rotten smell. Dr. Kristen Smith, an RDN and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics counter argues that a lot of evidence for cruciferous vegetables contributing to body odor is anecdotal.


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