This Is Exactly What You Should Be Eating to Smell Better, According to Science

Updated: Mar. 07, 2017

If your B.O. smells more sour than sexy, here's what you need to do to smell a little sweeter.

You probably think that physical attraction is what draws you to a potential mate, but it turns out that your sense of smell is just as critical a factor. No, we’re not talking about loving your partner’s signature cologne—we mean being turned on by his natural body odor. (But here’s what your scent choice says about your personality, in case you’re wondering.)

According to a recent study published in Evolution and Human Behavior, a man’s odor has a significant impact on his personal attractiveness. Researchers were able to test different male scents to find out what causes the individual differences, and which smells women find most alluring.

After collecting sweat samples and measuring dietary influences, the researches found that foods rich in carotenoids—which have anti-inflammatory properties, immune system benefits, and are shown to improve skin coloration—have the greatest positive impact on a man’s scent. Carotenoids are found in many fruits and vegetables, so if your man is eating a balanced, healthy diet full of veggies, he’s highly likely to have a naturally pleasant odor.

Women who sniff-tested carotenoid-rich sweat described it as having “more floral, fruity, sweet, and medicinal qualities.” Diets full of fat, meat, egg, and tofu intake were also associated with decent smelling sweat. Therefore, high-protein intake is also a smart way to improve your natural odor, so feel free to jump on the Paleo diet bandwagon.


The worst male B.O., according to the studies, comes from a carbohydrate-based diet—we’re talking pizza, pasta, and sandwiches, which really isn’t good for your health anyway. These are the subtle signs you’re eating too many carbs.

The study’s findings echo those of previous investigations showing that “more carotenoid-rich skin is found to be more attractive.” The bottom line? If you want your natural musk to attract a discerning woman, it’s time to lay off the pasta and opt for more fruits and veggies, such as these superfoods.

And if you’re wondering whether this trick works on same-sex attractiveness, the jury’s still out. That’s because the researchers tested only male sweat using female judges—both because women perform better on most olfactory tests, and because women are more sensitive and in tune with their reproductive needs (i.e. sniffing out those healthy genes to pass on). What’s more, men have more potently smelly sweat, making it easier to pick up on the subtle differences.