Claim: The consumption of green leafy vegetables deodorises the body.
Verdict: Misleading. Cruciferous vegetables (a subset of green leafy vegetables) are associated with bad body odour. Also, the question of body odour and what influences its pungency is not dependent on diet alone.
In an episode of the American podcast series ‘The Table with AO,’ a guest claims that “greens [green leafy vegetables] are deodorising to the body.” He says this in response to why he does not smell bad even though he does not use deodorants.
There are many schools of thought on the safety of deodorising products, with varying suggestions for natural alternatives. We set out to discover if the oral consumption of green leafy vegetables deodorises the body.
We presented this claim to Edem Azumah, a dietician at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital dietician. Mr Azumah recounted a study published by the Royal Society that investigated the smell of sweat in persons who ate more fruits and vegetables.
“A study using the skin spectrophotometry measure (CIELab b*), indicative of greater fruit and vegetable intake, was significantly associated with more pleasant smelling sweat (with more floral, fruity, sweet and medicinal qualities), independent of sweat intensity,” he recounted.
He quickly added, “jumping to this [green leafy vegetables deodorise the body] conclusion is inaccurate because cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower have been associated with bad body odour.”
In a TedEx presentation on What Causes Body Odour, Microbiologist Mel Rosenberg reveals other contributing factors to the smell of sweat: “Many microorganisms thrive in moist environments, like our armpits. When these bacteria feed on the proteins and fats in apocrine sweat, they turn the odourless compounds into new ones that can smell very unpleasant.”
On the role of diet in the prevalence of body odour, Mel Rosenberg says, “what you eat can have a small effect on how you smell.” In his study, diet is said to play a small part in the smell of sweat.
Although a study showed greater fruit and vegetable intake was significantly associated with more pleasant-smelling sweat, Dietician Edem Azumah points us to cruciferous green leafy vegetables associated with bad body odour. Furthermore, Microbiologist Mel Rosenberg opines that diet is not the only factor influencing the intensity of the smell of sweat. Our genetic makeup, age, and hygiene are also important factors to consider.
The researcher produced this fact check per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Class Media Group to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.