Back when you were a kid, your parents probably told you to eat your fruits and veggies, not just because that’s a very parental thing to say—along with “Make sure you finish all your homework before playing GoldenEye for 6 straight hours” and “Please don’t use our butane lighter again”—but because, of course, there are plenty of legitimate perks that come with eating produce: Fruits and vegetables can ward off your risk of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and general mortality, per a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology, and they can boost your well-being if you eat enough, according to Australian research.
But it turns out your folks also had your best romantic interests in mind when they told you to load up on broccoli. In a new study in Evolution & Human Behavior, researchers say that women prefer the scent of guys who eat fruits and vegetables to those who eat a ton of carbs.
The Australian scientists first wrangled up a bunch of men and used a tool called a spectrophotometer—which flashes a light onto your skin and looks for trace deposits of carotenoids, the pigments found in colorful fruits and vegetables—to see how much produce they consumed. Then they gave the guys white T-shirts and instructed them to work out, because previous studies reveal that your sweat is a good indicator of how attractive you are to potential mates.
In retrospect, the dudes in the study had it easy, because then the scientists roped in women who had to smell a bunch of sweaty shirts and rate the resulting stenches using terms like “floral,” “fruity,” and, presumably, “total ass.” (We hope they were compensated for their troubles.) In the end, the ladies liked the sweat from men who ate produce more than those who stuck to refined carbs like pasta and bread.
“We’ve known for a while that odor is an important component of attractiveness, especially for women,” study author Ian Stephen, a professor at Macquarie University in Australia, told NPR. This falls in line with additional research from Prague that found when men ate both a meat-heavy diet and a meat-free diet for 2 weeks each and gave odor samples in between, the women testers who smelled their B.O. far preferred the smells that came from veggie eaters.
So there you have it: Eat your greens if you want to smell sexy. Just don’t ask any women to take a whiff of your gym clothes.