Most children are physiologically predisposed to dislike bitter vegetables. New research shows how to get them to eat veggies anyway.
PROBLEM: When it comes to food, children are pretty easy to please. Unlike health-conscious grown-ups who care about nutrition or foodies who factor in points for presentation, all most kids care about when they eat is flavor. Sweet is good; bitter is very, very bad. So how can parents, who've overcome the genetic predisposition against tart-tasting food that afflicts about 70 percent of us, compel kids to eat the healthful veggies they've been programmed to hate?
- People Who Eat More Fish Enjoy Improved Memory
- What That Venti Coffee Really Says About You
- Bans on Soda and Other Sugary Drinks Don't Work
METHODOLOGY: For seven weeks, Temple University obesity researcher Jennifer Orlet Fisher served broccoli at snack time to 152 preschool-aged children and analyzed the effect of offering them various dips.
RESULTS: Adding 2.5 ounces of ranch dressing to a serving of vegetables helped bitter-sensitive children eat 80 percent more broccoli. Low-fat and regular versions of the dip were equally effective.
CONCLUSION: Low-fat dips can help children accept bitter food like broccoli or Brussels sprouts. Though ranch dressing was used in the experiment, Fisher notes in a statement that applesauce, hummus, or a yogurt-based dip can work as well.
SOURCE: The full study, "Offering 'Dip' Promotes Intake of a Moderately-Liked Raw Vegetable Among Preschoolers With Genetic Sensitivity to Bitterness," is published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.