Downsides of Superfoods and Your Body


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

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Nothing's really ever perfect, right? Even foods that are good for your diet and your health (often referred to as "superfoods") can cause things to happen in your body that are a little weird or uncomfortable. 

Most of the articles, news stories, and books that are written about superfoods include glowing accounts of their nutritional value and potential health benefits. Those are all real and good things, of course.

But there are also some possible unusual side effects you may encounter when you consume large amounts of some of these foods. These side effects are harmless, but they might make you a little nervous, or even scare you if you're not expecting them to happen.

Asparagus Pee

Asparagus contains sulfurous chemical compounds that give your urine an unusual odor. It doesn't happen to everyone, but it's relatively common. It happens quickly, too.

If you've eaten asparagus and you haven't smelled something funny when you pee, you're one of the lucky ones that doesn't react to aparagus.

Aside from the unusual odor, asparagus is good for you. It's low in calories, high in fiber, iron, folate, and vitamins A and C. It's even possible the compounds in asparagus can help your liver break down the byproducts of drinking too much alcohol –as long as you eat the asparagus before you go out drinking. 

Green, Leafy Poop

Spinach and kale are two fabulous superfoods because they're rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a bunch of phytochemicals that may have health benefits. If you eat lots of them, you'll also have green stool. It may be more common if your "transit time" is too quick and the greens aren't digested properly.

It might scare you the first time you notice it, but it's rare for green poop to be due to any type of health issue. It's the other colors you may need to worry about.

Red Beet Pee

Yeah, I know there's kind of an excretory theme here. If you eat a healthy helping of beets, you might notice red or pink urine later on that day or the next. That can be horrifying because it looks like blood, and peeing blood is never a good thing.

Red beet pee is harmless, and it actually has an official name: beeturia, which I think sounds like a good name for a Pokemon. Red urine isn't a reason to give up on beets. They're low in calories, high in vitamins and fiber, plus some of those red pigments may have some health benefits.

Garlic Body Odor

Garlic makes almost all the superfood lists, and there's a ton of research on its health benefits. It can help reduce cholesterol and aid in controlling high blood pressure. Some people believe it helps prevent several forms of cancer as well.

The thing is, if you eat lots of garlic (or take some garlic supplements), you're probably going to suffer from garlic-induced body odor. It's probably due to your body's reaction to allicin, the active chemical found in garlic.

Carrot Skin

Carrots are rich in carotenes, which are substances related to vitamin A. They're found in the orange pigments and are good for you, but, if you eat lots and lots of carrots, you can develop a yellowish or orange cast to your skin. It's mostly noticeable on the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands.

If you've ever seen "sunless tanning pills," They're probably just high dosage beta-carotene pills. You won't get tan; you'll turn orange. Officially this condition is called carotenemia, and it's most common in children since they're little (don't worry, it's harmless).

I guess I could also give an honorable mention to legumes and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. They're all good for you, but their high-fiber contents can also lead to potential bouts of flatulence.

A Word From Verywell

None of these side effects are dangerous, but they can make you (or in the case of eating lots of garlic, anyone sitting close to you) feel uncomfortable. But fear not, they're all perfectly normal reactions to these foods. You can add any of these foods as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wang F, Li Y, Zhang YJ, Zhou Y, Li S, Li HB. Natural Products for the Prevention and Treatment of Hangover and Alcohol Use Disorder. Molecules. 2016;21(1):64.  doi:10.3390/molecules21010064

  2. Sauder HM, Piuzzi NS, Rawla P. Beeturia. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-.

  3. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Garlic.

  4. Al Nasser Y, Albugeaey M. Carotenemia. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. 

Additional Reading

By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.