Why Cabbage & Sulphur-rich Foods Smell Like Farts

Words: Robyn Samuels

Whoever smelt it, dealt it and in this case, it’s cabbage. As a lover of coleslaw, kool kos and kimchi, one thing that can’t be denied and has to be said – cabbage smells like farts and rank ones at that. Although undeniably delicious and a great complement to many dishes, anyone with a functioning nose can’t help but admit it. But have you ever wondered why?

why does cabbage smell like fart?

Meet the Cabbage Family

Cabbage is part of the Brassicaceae family, rather aptly named as they contain ‘bracts’ or specialised leaves that produce flowers. This flowering species is also commonly referred to as ‘the cabbage family’, ‘the mustards’, and ‘the crucifers’ which sounds slightly demonic.

You may or may not know that cabbage is also closely related to the notorious kale, the shapeshifting cauliflower, baby trees or broccoli, and collards – last name, Greens. Together, they are cruciferous vegetables, a healthy yet stinky bunch of leafy greens.

The Brassicaceae family branches out into other species and contains approximately 372 genera and 4060 species, and that’s just the ones that have been classified by scientists. Other related vegetables include radish, turnip, Chinese or Napa cabbage and horseradish.

If we know anything about family, it’s that apart from sharing genes they usually have one trait in common. In the cabbage family’s case, it’s that they smell like farts and induce them too. Why? Vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and leafy greens like kale and spinach apparently contain high amounts of sulphur which is known to smell like rotten eggs.

Benefits of Eating Sulphur-rich Foods

Let’s be honest, sulphur doesn’t sound like the sexiest element on the periodic chart, but you know what is super sexy? Health – and sulphur actually contains loads of health benefits.

why cabbage smells like fart
sulphur rich vegetables

Interestingly, the body actually doesn’t produce any sulphur of its own, so eating certain produce that contains it is vital. Sulphur is essential to carrying out some of the most important biological functions and processes within the body. It not only helps produce protein but also regulates gene expression, helps build and repair DNA for cell regeneration and helps the digestive system metabolise food.

Sulphur is needed to produce glutathione, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation and helps prevent cell damage.

A sulphur-rich diet is worth considering for arthritic patients or even those with ‘bad knees’, as it’s one of the minerals that help maintain connective tissue, tendons and ligaments.

Side-effects of Sulphur-rich Foods

Besides the cabbage family, other sulphur-rich foods include meat, garlic, nuts, legumes, certain grains like barley and wheat, as well as condiments containing mustard or ground ginger. Although these foods offer great benefits, here’s the downside – eating sulphur-rich foods can result in increased flatulence, bloating and associated symptoms for those with digestive issues. Because these foods are also high in fibre, this further induces flatulence.

People that suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s Disease (an irritable bowel disease) and food intolerances, might find it difficult to digest foods from the cabbage family, as well as sulphur-rich foods. They are more difficult to break down by the small intestine due to the high amounts of sulphur in these vegetables.

While some would benefit from having a sulphur-rich diet to help maintain a healthy gut biome, others might experience negative side effects. The bottom line is, do sulphur-rich veggies and cabbage smell like fart? Yes, but they’re actually pretty good for you – that is if they don’t make you a gassy lassie.

Dealing with IBS can be a pain in the butt, if you want to learn how you can alleviate related symptoms, read up on Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

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