Swapping the deodorant in your gym bag for an apple might not sound like a very wise decision.
But according to a small, creative study, it could be just the trick to hooking your next date. Straight women in the study preferred the smell of sweaty men with diets high in produce over that of men who stuck to refined carbs like bread and pasta.
Apparently, the nose is the true window to the heart.
For the study, researchers divvied up 43 men and 9 women according to their gender. After testing the men’s diets using a skin test (bright red, yellow, and orange foods tinge our skins ever-so-slightly when we eat them regularly), the researchers had the men exercise while wearing a clean, unscented cotton T-shirt. Afterwards, they had the women sniff their sweaty, post-workout tees.
Interestingly, the women preferred the body odor of the men who ate lots of fruits and vegetables over the smell of the men who ate mostly refined carbohydrates.
“We’ve known for a while that odor is an important component of attractiveness, especially for women,” Ian Stephen, a professor of evolution, genetics, and psychology at Macquarie University in Australia and an author on the study, told NPR.
Although Stephen’s study was small, he’s not the first researcher to look into the three-pronged connection between diet, odor, and attractiveness. Several studies, including a handful of experiments from Charles University anthropologist Jitka Fialová, suggest that what we eat profoundly impacts not only how we smell but also that our odor could be a powerful indicator of our health – something of particular interest to a potential mate, evolutionarily-speaking.
We know that diets based around fruits and veggies are the healthiest meal plans overall.
“When you look at overall dietary patterns it’s a more whole-foods, plant-based diet that tends to be healthier in terms of less disease risk,” Cara Anselmo, a nutritionist and dietitian at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, told Business Insider.
So it is perhaps not so surprising that when we eat healthy, we smell healthy – and potential dates might notice.
“Women basically found that men who ate more vegetables smelled nicer,” Stephen said.