Flavor-pairing can make veggies seem tastier

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

brussel sprouts
Brusells sprouts aren’t exactly the most exciting vegetable, but pairing them with moderate amounts of cheesy goodness can train our brains to enjoy them.

Ever have trouble trying to chow down on some veggies? Well, a new study has shown that youth are more likely to eat vegetables if they’re paired with other yummy flavors, like cream cheese, peanut butter, and cheese sauce.

Our mind is more likely to enjoy a boring veggie with “flavor-pairing” because of something called associative conditioning. See, our minds can be conditioned (trained) to enjoy something when it’s associated (related) with a pleasant experience. This strategy can even be used with full-grown adults!

In the study, parents of 29 children between the ages of 3 and 5 filled out a survey on how much their kids enjoyed vegetables.

Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts were the least liked, so the researchers decided to try and make the kids enjoy them. They served these boring veggies either plain, with unsweetened cream cheese, or with sweetened cream cheese. When the children ate Brussels sprouts with cream cheese, they liked them far more than plain servings.  Afterwards, the kids who’d eaten the vegetables with cream cheese were more likely to eat them plain.