Contrary to the classic image of a forlorn child sitting in front of an uneaten plateful of Brussels sprouts long after everyone else has eaten dessert and left, parents who underestimate the ability of their children to choose healthy food instead of junk may be surprised at the results of a new study published in the journal, Brain Research.
The study, conducted by Spain’s University of Granada, shows that when given the opportunity to choose for themselves, children will consume 80 percent more vegetables than what may be served to them by an adult.
A tool the researchers used known as “Provision of Choice” increased the study participants’ from Granada area schools vegetable consumption by more than 40 grams per day through both lunch and dinner meals, which the researchers called “a very important quantity.”
One reason for the plateful of uneaten Brussels sprouts may also have come to light as a result of the study: Calcium, which is present in the cruciferous mini cabbages is also found in large doses in other dark leafy greens, like kale, chard and spinach, as well as in broccoli. Calcium can contribute a bitter taste, which children have a natural sensitivity to—meaning they’re not just refusing to eat their spinach or broccoli to be defiant—they’re generally overwhelmed by the chemical component 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) in the calcium rich vegetables.
Kids who eat a lot of processed foods instead of fresh fruits and vegetables have been shown to have lower IQ levels and an increased risk of behavioral problems from artificial colors and flavors common in processed foods.
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