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Your lifestyle, your quirk
There are new reasons to thank your parents for forcing you to eat your vegetables. When George H.W. Bush became president, he famously said, “I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” It’s fine for him to have a broccoli-free diet now, but his mother was wise to force the vegetable on him. A new study out of Finland and Australia found that children who eat at least one serving a day of vegetables per day will avoid obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol in adulthood.
Researchers in Finland and at Melbourne, Australia’s Murdoch Children Research Institute followed 2,000 children over a 27-year period. It looked at their diet, exercise habits in childhood and their health later on. The children who ate plenty of vegetables were less likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity issues.
The adverse effects occurred no matter how many vegetables the participants ate as adults. The kids who ate vegetables once a week or less were more likely to have high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels (a type of fat in the blood) no matter whether they ate vegetables as an adult. Less than one serving of veggies a week? That’s nowhere near the five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables recommended every day.
Since there is no specific age that has any more effect on adult health, it is recommended that children eat veggies every day. Luckily, there are plenty of other studies that tell you how to get a child to eat their greens. The Atlantic reported on a study that found preschoolers would eat more vegetables when given water to drink. Older children preferred the combination of soda and greasy, salty foods, so soda may make them choose less healthy options. Therefore, serving children water may encourage them to eat more vegetables.
You can also lead by example: kids will be more likely to eat vegetables if their parents do, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A study out of Alberta, Canada, found that kids who helped out in the kitchen were more likely to eat vegetables, which completely goes against the idea of hiding veggies in other foods. Letting children pick vegetables out at the market and having them help prepare dinner will add a sense of experimentation to cooking and eating and will give them a sense of ownership over the meal. If nothing else works, you can purée some cooked cauliflower into the sauce for macaroni and cheese, or hide beets in chocolate cake.
This study brings hope for the future…provided we can trick the next generation into eating vegetables. If you were a picky eater and avoided greens as a child, then you’d better pick up some very healthy habits now; you’re already more likely to develop some serious health problems.