Ever wondered why asparagus makes your pee smell? You’re definitely not alone! This post breaks down exactly what’s going on when you eat asparagus and how that translates to smelly urine (it’s all about genetics and your olfactory receptors). You’ll learn which smells are healthy—and which to look out for—and what causes that truly distinctive asparagus pee.
What’s not to love about crispy, earthy asparagus? It’s packed with minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium. It’s one of the healthiest vegetables in the world. But why must it make your urine smell? The science behind this commonly asked question might surprise you.
What is asparagus?
Relative of onions, Brussels sprouts, and garlic, asparagus comes from the Mediterranean. This vegetable actually has 300 varieties and more including purple, white, and pink spears.
The most common type you’ll find in American grocery stores is green asparagus. You’ll see it in bunches in the refrigerated produce section next to the lettuce, broccoli, and carrots.
Why does asparagus make your pee smell so quickly?
Eating asparagus causes your body to break down a chemical called asparagusic acid into sulfur-containing compounds. These compounds, along with other waste products, are excreted through your urine, which results in a pungent, distinct odor. Some people say it smells like sulfur, which is commonly described as smelling like rotten eggs.
(If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, then you know exactly what I mean!)
Any and all sulfur byproducts travel fast from urine (a liquid) to air, which is why you might do a double take at your own urine right before you flush.
How long does the asparagus pee smell last?
Within 15-30 minutes after eating asparagus, you’ll be able to detect that asparagus smell which can last up to 14 hours. That’s because your body absorbs asparagusic acid fairly quickly. According to a recent study, within 25 minutes your body has already absorbed half of the asparagusic acid you’ve consumed.
To sum it up, your body will (whether you like it or not) metabolize the asparagusic acid, resulting in that rotten cabbage odor for 8-14 hours.
Is it normal to have asparagus smelling pee?
It is completely normal to have smelly urine after eating asparagus because it’s a result of normal digestion.
For the few people who claim they don’t get asparagus pee, this may be a factor of their ability to smell, as opposed to something special about their digestion. Some people have a condition called asparagus anosmia where they cannot smell this unpleasant odor. Interestingly enough, this is caused by a genetic variation that affects your olfactory receptors (smell). This results in being unable to distinguish the sulfuric odor. Who would have thought?
But, in some cases, some people really do have asparagus-free pee. Why? Because these people might be able to break down the odor-causing chemical, asparagusic acid, more efficiently than others.
There isn’t much scientific research currently explaining why people have this ability. Simply put, some people just don’t have smelly pee. It could be due to them peeing more frequently, causing the odor to be diluted more, but this is not scientifically proven.
How do I get rid of asparagus smelling pee?
Oddly enough, no matter how many times you ask this question in hopes of an answer, there just isn’t one. You cannot prevent or change the smell of your urine after eating asparagus. Whether you eat asparagus or not, it’s a natural process to produce sulphur compounds. This is commonly experienced as passing gas, and smelly asparagus pee falls into a similar category.
And while everyone has different genes, you simply can’t run away from yours if you are more likely to produce foul-smelling pee. What you CAN do is drink more fluids to dilute the distinctive odor and flush quickly with a closed toilet lid to reduce the smell faster.
If you catch yourself wrinkling your nose after each time you pee (even after all that asparagusic acid is flushed out of your system), you should check in with your healthcare provider. Continual urine odor can be a symptom of a urinary tract infection, yeast infections, liver disease, kidney stones, or even rare genetic conditions. The only way to find out is to talk with your doctor.
The Bottom Line
Don’t let asparagus’s sulfurous odor convince you it’s unhealthy. The truth is, it’s actually really nutritious! For example, asparagus is considered a low-potassium food in portions of six stalks or less. For people with kidney disease, this is a completely healthy portion size.
It’s nothing to be concerned about… this stinky pee. It’s your body’s way of filtering out waste through your kidneys, which is what it’s made to do. Don’t shy away from this vegetable; if you can smell it in your pee afterward, you’ll know your body is functioning the way it should!
The Best Asparagus Recipes
Kick you asparagus game up a notch by trying out these Bacon Wrapped Asparagus and Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus recipes. On a cold, winter day, this Cream of Asparagus Soup warms from the inside out. These Oven-Baked Parmesan Asparagus Fries can really spice things up. You can never go wrong with traditional Air Fryer Asparagus and Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus.