Sulfur in foods

It is said that the noxious qualities of farts come from sulfur compounds created by the bacteria in our guts. So the sulfur has to come from somewhere. Aside from the well-known sulfur in eggs, what foods have the sulfur to fuel the fart factory? Could one get more benign flatus by avoiding such foods?

Lots of vegetables like cabbage, garlic, onion, and cheese all have enough sulfur content. Most of the gas is odorless methane, but it readily absorbs hydrogen sulfide which has that distinctive odor even when thinned out in larger amounts of methane.

According to thisthese foods contain sulfur. Not easy to avoid it.

Coconut milk, juice, oil
Cruciferous veggies, including: bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard leaves, radish, turnips, watercress
Dairy (except butter)
Dried fruits
Legumes and dried beans
Lime/lemon juice in bottle
Meat and fish
Onions (leeks, shallots, chives also)
Wine and grape juice

White Castle sliders, if being around myself hours later is anything to go on…

(Actually, almost certainly the onions in that case.)

In some of those items listed, it’s added as a preservative in the form of Sulphur Dioxide (dried fruits expecially) or Sodium Metabisulphite (fruit juices). That’s not to say that those foods don’t also naturally contain some sulphur, of course.

You shouldn’t seek to completely eliminate this element from your diet - your body requires it.

Nitpick in the spirit of the straightdope: The amount of methane in normal farts is not as much as people think. Here’s a typical fart composition :

Nitrogen: 20-90%
Hydrogen: 0-50% (flammable)
Carbon dioxide: 10-30%
Oxygen: 0-10%
Methane: 0-10% (flammable)

NP. More information is always better. I understood methane as being the means of dispersal, but I guess it’s going to disperse in the atmosphere anyway once a fart goes public.

All of them: Sulfur - Wikipedia

Maybe you’re asking for relative amounts? We’d want percent dry weight, which I’m not seeing listed anywhere. Also, the potenctly is likely related to the form, which will determine bioavailability to the gut bugs that free it into more volatile and fragrant forms.

  1. Is the methane composition produced in cattle farts that much different–particularly considering their diet and digestion processes? As far I understand it, methane pollution of/by cattle is no joke in studies of the environment.

  2. To add to that fine concise cite, on this:

Farts vs. Flatus
The gas that is produced and released through the rectum is called flatus. The medical definition of the term includes gas that is swallowed and that is produced within the stomach and intestines. To produce an audible fart, the flatus vibrates the anal sphincter and sometimes the buttocks, producing a characteristic sound.

on a historical note–a “spiritual” one, that word itself revealing the following concept–what was called “the divine afflatus” in one source which I can’t remember now manifested itself every now and then in the medieval scriptorium. If a monk farted he was not to be upbraided; rather it was a sign of the “spirit” (as in the German “geist” and the English [Holy] Ghost) releasing itself.

ETA: After some debate, I concur that a rip-roaring fart may vibrate the buttocks, which of course in the strict sense of the word is an acoustic event. But hearable? A different set of overtones?

ETA2: OP/username combo.

The sulfurous smell farts sometimes have is possibly due to H2S production, although they may be due to other sulfur compounds. Cite:

My farts almost never smell like reduced thiols, although they sometimes smell like rancid shit. That smell is due to skatole, the breakdown product of indole rings, coming from the destruction of hemoglobin, as red blood cells are recycled.

People are constantly coming up with plans online – remove sulfur from their diet, pre-reduce sulfur in their diet, oxidize all sulfur in their diet, never eat meat, ony eat certain vegetables But they’re probably barking up the wrong tree, unless their farts truly smell like rotten eggs.

You’re not going to be able to stop your body from digesting its own waste products, no matter how your diet changes.

Sulfur is present in the aminos acids methionine and cysteine. So any protein will have at least some sulfur in it.

It’s the 8th most abundant element in your body - pretty sure you’d be screwed without it (or without enough of it)


My understanding is it’s mostly released by the bacteria that help them digest cellulose, and it is mostly burped out, not farted.

Re: the environment, see the US EPA GHG Inventory. It’s imperfect, but enteric fermentation in livestock accounts for about 170 MMT CO2 Eq. out of 6500 MMT CO2 Eq. total emissions.