Getting them to eat their greens
Broccoli is always high up on the super food list. It doesn’t have a GI value because it’s not a source of carbohydrate and it has hardly any calories. But it’s an absolute nutritional powerhouse delivering vitamin C, fibre, beta-carotene, folate and vitamin E plus B vitamins and minerals like iron and calcium. People who regularly eat broccoli have a reduced risk of several cancers including bowel cancer. Enjoy it (or broccolini) a couple of times a week cooked and served as a side dish or blanched and served with traditional Mediterranean dips like hummous or babaghanoush, or tossed into salads or pasta, or added to stir-fries. Don’t overcook broccoli – al dente is best for both flavour and nutrition.
The only problem with broccoli is that some kids (little ones and big ones) don’t like it (or its cousin cauliflower). They find these cruciferous veggies a bit on the nose. A new study however shows that people can be ‘conditioned’ to like it in just five days! Elizabeth Capaldi and Gregory Privitera from Arizona State University ran what’s called a ‘conditioning’ trial to see whether sweetening broccoli with a little sucrose (table sugar) could increase its pleasantness.
The conditioning process seemed to work. Broccoli and cauliflower were rated as more pleasant with each day that passed. This increase was greatest for vegetables that were sweetened. Prof Jennie Brand-Miller here at the GI Group isn’t at all surprised with the result. Based on her work with Australian bush foods she believes that we have a much sweeter tooth than our forebears did and that all the fruits we eat today are significantly sweeter than any they would have tucked into.
- Day 1: Thirty-two undergraduates who said that they didn’t like broccoli and cauliflower were given 14 grams of unsweetened broccoli and cauliflower, they rated each food on three nine point scales (pleasantness, sweetness, and bitterness).
- Days 2, 3, 4: Half the students were given unsweetened broccoli and sweetened cauliflower, the other half were given sweetened broccoli and unsweetened cauliflower.
- Day 5: Both groups were given both vegetables unsweetened.
– Appetite, 2007, manuscript online ahead of print; doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2007.06.008