A spoonful of sugar helps the veggies go down

A spoonful of sugar helps the veggies go down

Preliminary research by University of Connnecticut scientists suggests sugar spritz may lure kids into a lifetime of eating vegetables.

A spritzer of sweetness may be the most powerful weapon in the fight against obesity. Preschoolers served veggies misted with sugar at lunch ate more of them than those who were served naked vegetables in preliminary studies presented by Valerie Duffy, a University of Connecticut dietician and researcher, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Could a squirt of stevia lead the way to a generation of veggie-loving kids?

Better flavor is the missing ingredient for many children who'd rather sit at the table until their Brussels sprouts bloom than actually eat the things. Duffy explained to sciencemag.org, that because kids have more sensitive palates than adults, “we need to pay more attention to taste and improving preferences for vegetables” so that kids develop a long term affinity for them. 

The half teaspoon of sugar researchers added to three-quarters cup of vegetables seemed to do the trick. That amount of sugar did not make the vegetables taste markedly sweet, rather was enough to balance out the bitter flavor. Some people, (George H.W. Bush perhaps?) are genetically more sensitive to the bitter flavor found in veggies like asparagus, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, Duffy told myhealthnewsdaily.com. Masking the bitterness may be an effective way to increase vegetable consumption. If only White House chefs were aware of this during the Bush I broccoli crisis.

Parents shouldn't freak out about the sweetener, said Duffy. It is not suggested as a permanent addition to the plate. After the kids eat the sweetened vegetables a few times, the sugar can be eliminated and they will continue liking the vegetables, reports sciencenow.org. Parents are free to sugarcoat life's other bitter things as long as they like. Meanwhile, America awaits a spray mist that makes doing taxes appealing.

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