Popular Science

Here’s how scientists are tricking you into eating your veggies

Step one: Plant some fake childhood memories in your noggin.

There are people in this world who genuinely love vegetables. Some snack on frozen broccoli straight from the bag. Others crave carrots, adore asparagus, and even finish their kale without being bribed, begged, or threatened.

Then there are the rest of us. Sure, a vegetable-rich diet lowers your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, certain cancers, and more. But why do they have to taste so … vegetal?

Kids are notoriously picky in the vegetable department, but adults have a lot of room to improve as well. Nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t eat enough vegetables. Could anything make us change our ways?

“Just giving people the information is not sufficient. If you really want to get some behavior change, you have to make it easy for people to do,” says John Hayes, a food scientist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. “If food does not taste good, people will not eat it.”

True.

But there may yet be hope for us vegetable skeptics. Scientists are coming up with ways to cajole you into eating your veggies. Some involve a little bit of manipulation, while others focus on making the vegetables themselves taste better.

“We’re going to contribute to being healthier without having to try to make people eat stuff they don’t want to eat,” says Linda Bartoshuk, an experimental psychologist at the University of Florida in

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