A team of researchers investigated why some people have an aversion to cabbage vegetables. There is hope for parents who care about healthy eating for their children.
It is a well-known scene in many families: it is important to parents that their children eat healthily, which is why they regularly serve vegetables. But the children often don't feel like doing that at all. "Ugh, uh" is what they say especially when it comes to broccoli, cauliflower and co. But why is that? Are the children picky, or is there another explanation? An Australian research team has now examined what happens when the cabbage is eaten and found a possible explanation for the widespread rejection.
Damien Frank's team from the Australian science agency Csiro has found that proteins from cabbage vegetables and bacteria in saliva can produce unpleasant-smelling sulfur compounds. A high concentration of these substances leads to the fact that children do not like the cabbage. This could also be an explanation for the aversion to other cabbage vegetables, as the scientists write in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry".
Putrid and sulphurous is not popular
For their investigation, the researchers first identified the most important odor-active compounds in raw and steamed cauliflower and broccoli. 98 test pairs, each consisting of a parent and a child between the ages of six and eight, then rated how they smell. In this odor test, dimethyl trisulfide performed worst in children and adults - a chemical compound that smells foul and sulphurous.
The research team did another test: they mixed samples of saliva from children and adults with powder made from raw cauliflower and analyzed the resulting chemical compounds. This test showed that depending on the test person's saliva, very different amounts of these sulfur compounds were formed. But: The resulting connections were similar in children and their parents, which can probably be explained by the fact that they have similar microorganisms in their mouth.
Children, whose saliva produced high amounts of volatile sulfur compounds, therefore mostly did not like raw cabbage vegetables. However, this relationship could not be established in adults. The researchers therefore suspect that many people's taste buds get used to the food over time.
So parents can hope that at some point their children will eat broccoli and cauliflower with no disgust. In fact, the Australian scientists also point out in their paper that the tastes of children and adults are different. According to this, children prefer sweet foods and tend not to like bitter foods. Experts advise parents not to put any pressure on their children when it comes to nutrition, to keep offering healthy food and to set a good example themselves.
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