7 Foods with Bizarre Side Effects

SHAPE magazine

by Charlotte Andersen for SHAPE.com

Sometimes your diet can have unintended side effects. Certain healthy foods pack a bizarre punch in the form of an odd odor or a metallic aftertaste, plus one adverse reaction that's not just strange--it's downright scary! Read on for seven healthy foods that elicit weird bodily responses.

1. Cilantro: Often called the Great Cilantro Divide in culinary circles, people generally either love cilantro or they hate it-as in, they describe the herb as "smelling like death," "eating hand sanitizer," and "gargling with Palmolive." So why does cilantro taste superb to some but soap-like to others? While genetics may play a part-identical twins often rate cilantro the same way-the big difference is how sensitive your nose is, according to Dr. Danielle Reed, a scientist from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. People who love cilantro are apparently able to smell a compound in the fragrant herb that haters cannot. Plus, those repulsed by cilantro can keenly smell the unsaturated aldehydes that give it that soapy scent.

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2. Asparagus: If you smell a funky odor in the bathroom a few hours after eating asparagus, chalk it up to good genetics. While some people are born with coveted high-metabolism or smart genes, you are blessed with...the stinky asparagus gene. Don't worry, you're in good company: A study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that 46 percent of British subjects and 100 percent of French subjects experience post-asparagus smelly pee. Why? In an interview with TODAY, Mark Leyner and Dr. Billy Goldberg, authors of Why Do Men Have Nipples? explained the phenomenon: "Asparagus contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan. It is also found in onions, garlic, rotten eggs, and in the secretions of skunks. The signature smell occurs when this substance is broken down in your digestive system."

3. Beets: A trip to the ladies room after eating beets can send an uninformed diner into panic mode! But as shocking as a rosy red toilet bowl may be, it turns out that beeturia-the condition where eating beets turns your pee and/or poop red-can be quite useful. While 14 percent of the population has a gene that makes this happen every time they eat beets, for the remaining 86 percent, beeturia means your body is low on iron. In addition to the tie-dyed bowel movements, chronic fatigue, heart palpitations, or pale skin are all reasons to talk to your doctor about getting tested for anemia.

4. Oysters: Thanks to high levels of zinc, an oyster dinner may boost your chance for a big O in the bedroom. Zinc is needed for testosterone production, and while women don't have as much of the hormone as men, it still has a huge effect on libido. And according to Dr. Nicholas Perricone, "Oysters also boost dopamine, a hormone which results in increased libido in both men and women." So slurp away!

5. Pine nuts: Why do some pine nuts make your mouth taste like you licked a pile of pennies? Anywhere from two days to two weeks after eating pine nuts, particularly those from China, sufferers of the dreaded "pine mouth" are plagued by a weird metallic aftertaste. In a report published in the European Journal of Emergency Medicine, scientists studied Chinese pine nuts and concluded that while they do cause the metal mouth feeling, it's not entirely clear why. The researchers believe it's related to the specific type of triglycerides in the nuts. Make sure your pine nuts are imported from another locale to avoid the icky aftermath.

6. Broccoli: We've all heard horror stories of a carrot obsession turning your skin orange, but carrots aren't the only veggie you can overdo. According to researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage contain "goitrogens that interfere with thyroid hormone biosynthesis." Eat enough and you can actually induce hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain important hormones. Why is that bad? Over time, hypothyroidism can cause a number of health problems, including obesity, joint pain, infertility, and heart disease.

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7. Fugu fish: Sushi is one of the most popular cuisines among health-conscious eaters, but a word to the wise: Be careful when changing up your order. If improperly prepared, there is a particular kind of fish that can be fatal. Fugu (or puffer fish) is a Japanese delicacy, but thanks to the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin that is concentrated in the fish's liver, ovaries, and skin, it's so lethal that chefs have to receive specialized training for three years before they're legally allowed to prepare it. Considering there's no known antidote, you should probably just stick with the salmon.

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7 healthy foods with bizarre side effects
7 healthy foods with bizarre side effects