Most children, who are sensitive to bitterness, often run away from eating greens but adding a small amount of dip to their serving of vegetables can tempt them to eating more of them, a new study has revealed.
Research has found that sensitivity to bitterness could be one of the reasons why kids do not eat their vegetable and the reason is fairly common among children – about 70 percent have it.
A new study led by Jennifer Orlet Fisher, director of the Family Eating Laboratory at Temple’s Center for Obesity Research and Education, took into consideration 152 pre-school aged children in the Head Start program who were served broccoli at snack time over a 7-week period.
The study found that offering 2.5 ounces of ranch dressing as a dip increased broccoli consumption by 80 percent among bitter-sensitive children. Low-fat and regular versions were tested, and both were equally effective.
“We know that children can learn to like vegetables if they are offered frequently, without prodding and prompting,” said Fisher.
“Children with a sensitivity to bitterness may avoid certain vegetables, but offering a low-fat dip could make it easier for those foods to become an accepted part of children’s diet.”
She added that parents do not necessarily need to stick to dressings high in fat and salt to see a positive effect.
“Try applesauce, hummus, or a low-fat yogurt-based dip for more calcium,” she said.
Dislike of the bitterness in some foods may stem from the ‘TAS2R38’ gene, which influences how we perceive bitter tastes.
To determine which children in the study had this sensitivity, researchers offered each child a cup with increasing amounts of a bitter-tasting compound common in green vegetables.
After each cup, the child was asked whether the fluid tasted like water, or was ‘bitter or yucky’. About 70 percent of the children responded in the latter.
“Parents and caregivers do not make laboratory measurements of children''s bitter sensitivity, but most will know if their child is wary of vegetables.”
“Our research shows that offering dip is another tool that parents can use to help children learn to eat their vegetables,” Fisher added.
The study has been recently published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.