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How to stop being a vegetable hater
You know green vegetables are good for you.
BUT……THEY TASTE AWFUL !
When vegetables signal poison
This is the reason, getting kids to eat them is an uphill battle. Plopping a mouthful of a grassy, bitter, GREEN, food into your mouth is an instant turn off.
The brain is wired to see BITTER as POISON.
And the best way to handle a POISON.
Spit it out and never stick it in your mouth, EVER AGAIN.
Which is precisely what happens to millions of people…………
They’re vegetable haters !
When vegetables signal pleasure
But, there are people, who genuinely LOVE eating greens.
And this LOVE extends beyond intellectual assent, that they are superfoods.
So what is the difference ?
Well it could be genetic……
The biology of bitter
There is a lot of variability in the bitter taste receptors and these little guys are doing a lot more than just setting flavour preferences.
So yes, you might be wired in such away, as to be super-sensitive to bitter. That’s me !
But……………odds are you drink coffee.
The loved bitter flavour
Coffee is actually rather bitter. Granted it comes with a caffeine kick, which can be a worthwhile pay off…………… and for some people, a teaspoon or three of sugar and lots of cream, helps make it a treat.
So bitter is context specific !
Which begs the question, what makes bitter ACCEPTABLE ?
It’s pretty much AGREED, to like a lot of foods, takes practice. In fact, experts think, it can take up to 15 exposures to a particular food, to get it on the menu.
The problem is, practicing ,takes patience AND MONEY.
Something many Moms find hard to do…………
It’s just easier to NOT serve broccoli and try to get the goodies from a pill or two.
Making vegetables desirable
But those green vegetables DO create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY, so figuring out, how to put them on the menu, is a worthy pursuit.
A team of researchers the Pennsylvania State University decided to take up the challenge.
Drawing inspiration from the movies, they explored what happened when a spoonful of sugar, was added to the greenery on the plate.
Now, the amount of sugar they added was TINY.
Coffee turned green
The objective was not to make a green coloured sugar snack, but rather, to add just enough sugar, to kill the bitterness, inherent in the green vegetables.
While keeping the flavours of the green vegetables intact.
So green tastes ………… would become FAMILIAR. And thus, ACCEPTABLE.
NOTE : This is what happens with coffee. You start with coffee and three teaspoons of sugar and a dollop of milk, but sophisticated coffee drinkers………….have it black. They don’t want ANYTHING, interfering with those natural (BITTER) flavours.
Less than a spoonful of sugar
Step one in this project……….was to figure out, how much sugar was required to hide the bitter and keep the green.
They used trained volunteers to taste test pureed vegetable samples.
This is a spider plot showing the results for kale, a seriously bitter green veg.
They found, 1.2 % sugar, was enough to kill the bitter, without taking out the green flavours, or turning it into green syrup.
So was it enough to make it more palatable ?
Sugared greens taste nicer
The short answer……. yes. Most folks, they asked 84 regular people, to rate vegetable samples, found the small amount of sugar, took the edge off a green vegetable puree.
The coffee principle works…………..
More greens are good
Pretty much EVERYONE agrees, eating more greens is good for you.
But when the research team, explored whether parents would implement the sugar “hack”, to get their kids to eat more veggies……there was a little bit of a backlash.
Parents were worried about the sugar / calories……
I can’t give my kid sugar
Yes, sugar is BAD.
But, the amount of sugar you need to kill the bitter is TINY.
To get a sugar concentration of around 2 % sugar, which was used in this study, amounts to adding ½ teaspoon of sugar to 100 g of pureed vegetables.
Put in perspective, a glass of coke, has up to 7 teaspoons of sugar and NO beneficial nutrients.
The objective is to make green flavours familiar and thus acceptable.
Just like coffee, the sweetness can be decreased over time, once the flavour has been learned. And if this never happens…………. so be it, green vegetables are “good” medicine.
Use the sugar strategically – to make the medicine go down.
NOTE : If you’re sugar challenged and nervous about including small amounts of sugar in your diet, another research group has demonstrated, artificial sweeteners will work just as well. Of course, artificial sweeteners have their own set of issues when it comes to body chemistry.
When you’re insulin resistant, sugar can’t leave the blood, because the glucose gates, normally used by the sugar molecules, are missing. Gate moving needs…
When a gut bacteria can’t find something fibrous to chew, it will just eat something else. Good for the bacteria, but potentially dangerous for you !
Consuming broccoli, provides your intestinal cells with sweet treats, this makes the cells happy and stops sugar cravings.