In case your child’s being dramatic about consuming broccoli, they might have good motive
For a segment of the population, certain vegetables can actually taste like the most disgusting imaginable.
It’s a scene most parents probably know only too well: Your family is sitting at the dining table and your child refuses to touch the few pieces of green vegetables you dared to put on your plate. After unsuccessfully trying to get them to give the broccoli or Brussels sprouts a chance, your child is yours suddenly hysterical– and you roll your eyes because that reaction feels excessive. It’s just broccoli, isn’t it?
Well, it turns out those tears can actually be justified because, for some children, they are forced to eat something that tastes like rotting meat. Yup, according to a new study published in Agricultural and Food Chemistry Journal, certain bacteria in our saliva can interact with Brassica family vegetables (which includes go-tos like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts) to produce “odorous volatile sulfur compounds” that taste gross. Sorry kids!
Well, this link between saliva and broccoli has been explored in previous studies, but this new study is the first to include children among the test subjects. It is also the first to compare the children’s results with those of their parents. The study found that while the amount of “volatile saliva production” (how much your saliva reacts to these vegetables and making the gross tasting stuff) varies between people, parents and children tend to have similar levels. So, if you didn’t like broccoli as a kid, your kids will likely struggle when it’s their turn to eat it too.
And it’s no wonder people who make many of the gross tasting things don’t like broccoli, because this chemical, a compound known as dimethyl trisulfide, is found in large quantities in decomposing meat. Depending on your saliva, broccoli and cauliflower have literally the same chemical makeup as rotting meat. Are you gagging What’s worse, the study found that over time, as the saliva interacts with the vegetables, the levels of dimethyl trisulfide increase while the levels of other, more pleasant-tasting chemicals decrease. That is, if your child chews slower because of it don’t like the tastethat the longer they chew, the worse the bad taste becomes.
Fortunately, long-term exposure helps people get used to the flavors, which is why adults with high volatile production rates still enjoy eating cruciferous vegetables. And we’re sorry to say that parents should keep feeding their unwilling children as much broccoli and other vegetables as possible so that they can eventually get a taste for it for you too. Because even if there isn’t a rotting meat taste involved, after many exposures, kids become more willing to eat foods they are careful about (even if some of those exposures are only visual, seeing a small portion on their plate can be helpful ).
That being said, when they say they’ve had enough, it’s a good idea to listen and not push them to wash their plates. Because you can only handle so much rotting meat flavor at a time, right?