Body odor can provide important information when people choose a romantic partner. Many factors can influence body odor, and one of them is diet.
In a recent study published in Evolution and Human Behavior, researchers find that eating more fruits and vegetables can make men smell more attractive.
Researchers recruited 43 men (18-30 years old) who had different habits in eating fruits, vegetables and meat. They first collected odor samples and diet information from these participants. After that, two women evaluated these male odor samples.
Researchers found that eating fruits and vegetables could change the skin yellowness, which was significantly correlated with attractiveness of the male sweat.
Greater skin yellowness means greater skin carotenoid concentration (due to fruits and vegetables intake), and this was associated with more positive affective judgments.
In addition, greater eating of eggs, tofu, oils and fats was associated with more positive evaluations, whereas greater eating of seafood and carbohydrates was related to less positive evaluations.
Researchers also found that stronger intensity judgments were associated with reduced eating of eggs and tofu and meat, and with more eating of seafood and carbohydrate foods.
Researchers suggest that healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables can provide a significant source of carotenoids, which is important for the immune system. Interestingly, many animals use visual cues to carotenoid levels as an indicator of fitness.
To increase skin yellowness (i.e. facial attractiveness), researchers suggest men reduce meat intake, increase eating of eggs and tofu and vegetables. Basically, a healthy diet (more plant-based diet), including higher intake of non-meat protein sources and lower eating of meat, is associated with yellower skin.
Finally, the study shows that male sweat can serve as a further honest cue to women about a man’s lifestyle.
Citation: Zuniga A, et al. (2016). Diet quality and the attractiveness of male body odor. Evolution and Human Behavior, In press. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2016.08.002
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