June 17, 2008


Posted in Journal tagged , , , , at 11:00 pm by Jenn

Tonight I had asparagus for dinner and well it did what it always does, it made my pee stink.  I know, I know, TMI but just hang in there.  I remembered recently having a conversation with my friend Christine about green vs white asparagus and the varying amount of stinkiness.  Being the geek that I am, I set off on a quest to find out if this is indeed true.  I still haven’t found the answer, but I did find this interesting fact and can’t believe that I didn’t learn this in my genetics class, maybe I did but just forgot (I doubt that though).

Oh yeah, interesting fact.  Some people can smell asparagus pee and some can’t.  It’s genetic.  Only about 40% of us have the lucky gene that is required to smell that oh so pleasant smell.  So Christine, maybe that’s the answer….maybe Germans don’t have the “asparagus stinky pee gene.

The stink comes from the breaking down of mercaptan (aparently genetically we may or may not produce the enzyme to break this down – no breakdown = no stinky pee).

Now I’d like to conduct a survey.  To participate you will need to eat asparagus, pee and report back to me whether or not it stinks.  Now if you can’t smell it, maybe you’d be willing to recruit a friend to take a whiff (in the name of science of course).  Seriously, I’m fascinated.  Oh and please be sure to say whether the asparagus was white or green. 

And just in case you are wondering Scott can’t smell it and isn’t willing to smell mine!  LOL  His exact words, “Are you crazy!”  LOL.




  1. Marla said,

    I eat green asparagus and my pee stinks, same for my husband.
    I found you through Ravelry.

  2. Angie said,

    I’ve never smelled asparagus pee and I loooove asparagus. I’ve never asked anyone else to sniff my pee for me, either. I don’t know why white asparagus would be any different from green asparagus. They are the same plant, only white asparagus have been grown in such a way as not to be exposed to sunlight.

    Another fun fact… Do you like brussels sprouts? If not, then chances are you are genetically sensitive to phenylthiocarbamide, which gives brussels sprouts their “characteristically bitter” taste. Not everyone can taste it. I can’t, and I looooove brussels sprouts like I looooove asparagus: steamed with a little butter and garlic salt, or a squeeze of lemon juice. Yum.

  3. Jen D said,

    Ok. Claire and I love asparagus and it’s in our fridge. So, tomorrow we will make it for lunch (Pete hates it and the smell…not the pee smell just the smell of it cooked) and we’ll report to you! Happy to report in!

  4. Jen D said,

    Couldn’t Scott ‘smell’ it in the name of science anyway??? It’s so important!

  5. notgoth said,

    Thats fascinating about Brussels sprouts which are like a national vegetable in the UK – it’s not Christmas in the UK without sprouts. That explains why so many people hate them. I am not a fan to be honest.

    We have some green asparagus in our fridge – I will get back to you Jenn!

  6. Christine said,

    Jenn, you’re my hero! Here is something, though, that’s perplexing. I had steamed white asparagus (and it was pithy, eew, I think it was picked way too late but that’s another entry on the growing of asparagus) with hollandaise and I was very excited to go home and pee. No smell. 😦 Too many variables. I have a botanist friend who we can bring in after our pee results, if need be, to help us sort this stuff out!

  7. sjsmart said,

    Angie, I can’t stand brussels sprouts. Maybe I am genetically sensitive and in that case – Mom you should be ashamed of yourself! : )

    I’ve given up on having Scott participate in this little experiment.

    Christine – I really think the white aspargus doesn’t make it smell as much…maybe the sunlight makes the mercaptan stronger? I don’t know, but I’m going to try to find out….I really need a new hobby! LOL Keep that friend on speed dial.

  8. Mom said,

    I am not ashamed of myself!!! Brussel sprouts are great-Grammy thought so, Muffet, Carol, Debbie and Zachary. Maybe it is Grammy’s genes and you are more like Dad than I thought.

  9. i cannot smell asparagus pee. i count myself lucky for that! but we have a friend that if he so much as looks at asparagus he says his pee starts smelling. i thought he was just crazy.

  10. I can report in on three people. 🙂 My fiancee’ LOVES asparagus and though I’ve never volunteered to follow him into the bathroom, he’s always self-reported that his pee smells like asparagus.

    Mom was here this weekend. We made asparagus (Green) before reading this and yes, we both made comments about it (about ourselves, not each other. :P).

    I will try to pay attention to white asparagus (or ask my fiancee’ when he wakes up in Asia since he’s such an asparagus fan). I’ve not noticed since I only get it in Europe usually.

    All that said, I find in the morning if I don’t drink much water and have my two mugs of coffee, my pee smells like coffee. Not sure what chemical causes that but it’s distinct, so there ya go. 😉

    Oh, and I should mention — I found you through Google looking up my hairdresser’s (Steven Ward) phone number … I would LOVE to know what you did about your hair there. I’m a nervous wreck since I’m moving to Phoenix in August. Considering flying to Wilmington every so often for haircuts. You think I jest? You know I don’t… heh


  11. sjsmart said,

    Wow, I’m amazed that people are actually leaving replies. And people I don’t know at that. Keep the responses coming! I’ll keep the survey open til July 17th.

    Stef, – The language is a huge barrier so I had a friend with me the first time. The second time was with the same stylist and she was good so she remembered what I liked (and friend was there too). The third time (in a new country – with cheat sheet with hair related terms in Russian in my purse) I just had them take off a LITTLE all the way around. I am waiting til I get back to the states and will make a special trip to Wilmington to see Steve. I have actually considered maybe flying to London but I thought that might be a little extreme! LOL

    On the bright side, at least there isn’t a language barrier in Pheonix! In my opinion, he’s worth the trip to Wilmington now and then. I wish there were more of him. I always feel like a million bucks during and after.

  12. Capi said,

    Hey Jenn –
    I eat asparagus all the time. White, green, you name it – my pee stinks. So does my husbands. Actually, when I was breast-feeding Tyler, even my breast milk stank!
    Them asparagus mean business!!

  13. Lori said,

    I came across your site while trying to research why my pee smells like coffee when I drink it. Although it is not all the time. I already knew the asparagus connection. My pee smells, and my kids(boy and girl), have the asparagus smell too. Their dad’ does not.

    How funny that you put this out there! It just goes to show how human we all are behind all of the facades. Good luck on your asparagus journey. lol

  14. sjsmart said,

    Thanks for your input Capi and Lori! Check back for the results in a couple of weeks!

  15. sjsmart said,

    Ok the results of the survey are out of 15 reports in the comments section of this post 11 can smell asparagus pee and 4 cannot that is 73.3% of those reporting could smell asparagus pee and 26.7% of those report could not.

    Interesting. That’s way above the 40% that the research showed. I guess we are just SPECIAL!

  16. […] the results of the Asparagus survey and the results were surprising…..pop on over to the original post and take a look at today’s comment for the […]

  17. Amber said,

    I found this b/c I was looking for someone else who’s pee smelled funny after eating brussel sprouts. I’m fine with the asparagus, but always the day after I eat sprouts, my pee smells like them too. Strange!

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