What's With the Funk? The Truth Behind Stinky Asparagus Pee

August 02, 2019

Grilled asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. I love it on its own, I love it chopped up and added to salads, I just can’t get enough of it! However, sometimes my love for asparagus blinds me and makes me forget about its less than pleasant side effect, the odor inducing pee. Recently, I found myself utterly embarrassed after having asparagus as a side dish, only to have the smell of my urine suffocate the women’s restroom at the end of my meal. It got me to wonder, what’s with the funk?

Scientists have theorized that the odor likely comes from asparagusic acid, a compound that is specific to asparagus. Through digestion, our bodies break down asparagusic acid into sulfur-based compounds. Sulphur gas is commonly regarded for its foul stench similar to rotten eggs, however, the sulfuric compounds produced by asparagus degradation have more of a rotten cabbage smell. This process happens rather quickly, in as little as 15 to 30 minutes after eating asparagus. When these compounds are expressed from our bodies and hit room temperature, they turn to gas. So, basically, what you’re smelling is a funky odorous gas caused by your body digesting the asparagus.

Never smelled this strange phenomena? Consider yourself lucky, but not alone. Not everyone has the ability to smell asparagus pee (perhaps due to a genetic mutation), which I am choosing to find comforting given my last bathroom humiliation, perhaps the other women did not smell it.





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