Why Does Asparagus Make Pee Smell Weird?

Ross Gardiner
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And other food-based mysteries…

The body is an incredible, magical thing. Food is a wonderful, mystical substance. Together they frolic in serene fields of ambiguity, rewarding us with enhanced energy, yellow water, and brown sludge. It's all a big weird mystery! But we're sick of wondering why. We want answers!

We sat down and marveled at the body for a while, composed a list of questions that we've always wondered about, and then we went out there to find the answers!


This is a question that comes up time and time again, even in written history. Benjamin Franklin noted the peculiar connection in a 1781 letter to the Royal Academy of Brussels. Marcel Proust once claimed the lovely green spear “transforms my chamber-pot into a flask of perfume." When you Google "Why does as-" it suggests you inquire "Why does asparagus make my urine stink?" So it's clearly a problem society needs to answer.

The reason for this lies in a substance known as asparagusic acid. When our bodies tear apart those delicious spears of mirth, the asparagusic acid within is turned into a substance similar to sulfuric acid. That is what's making your pee funk like homemade gunpowder from the 1840s.


My first day working in a professional kitchen involved chopping hella onions. My eyes were pissing tears. The chipper, yet somewhat evil sous chef told me to put a spoon upside down inside my mouth. He claimed that the alkali in the spoon would neutralize the onion's acid. Being no kind of chemist and all kinds of gullible, I did as instructed. Everyone laughed at me as I cried with a spoon hanging out of my mouth.

As it turns out, the answer to this common problem is fairly straightforward. In short, onions release a chemical called syn-Propanethial-S-oxide, which apparently pillages your tear glands and nerve endings. Your body is trying to wash the chemical from your eyes, like you try to cover its stench with a stick of gum.

Here are some interesting solutions from Life Hacker on how to avoid crying when chopping emotional onions!


Beans are a wonderful source of protein and humor, though most of us would be happy to remove the hilarity of the old legume and focus on the goodness.

After you swallow your food it starts a long and uncomfortable journey towards your anus. As it travels through your body it's stripped apart for goodness (absorbed) and badness (passed through). Part of the badness in beans is a sugar called oligosaccharide, which gets a hall pass to the bacteria in your stomach and creates a buildup of gas. Then boom: Farts.



So this is a bit of a mystery to us. We get sriracha, obviously. Tabasco makes sense to a certain extent. But these people who insist on transforming their tongue into a grueling battlefield between their pain tolerance and nature's fire power don't make any sense to us.

There really isn't much research or evidence on why humans feel the need to endure spicy pain to enjoy their food. Some say it's because we like challenging our tongues to man-the-France-up, while others attribute a natural lowering of blood pressure.

We just think y'all are the same people who like to be tied up and beaten with a stiletto during sex.


Okay, this one sounds absolutely ridiculous but actually has some truth! While eating an excessive amount of carrots (we can't say exactly how many, but take that as, 'Oh shit, that's a lot of carrots! Are you involved in some kind of dare?') won't actually turn you orange, it can turn you yellow. This basically makes you look like you have jaundice, which isn't a good look at all.

The chemical responsible for this lunacy is called carotenemia, which is found in carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes. Excessive amounts can cause discoloration cured only by not eating anymore goddamn carrots. Discoloration could last for several months(!).

If you have any weird food/body related questions, go ahead and drop them into the comments section and we'll try to debunk them with hatcheted science paraphrased from Yahoo! Answers…

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