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Decadent descriptions make veggies more appealing

Original source: http://prowellness.vmhost.psu.edu/decadent-descriptions-make-veggies-appealing

You know veggies are good for you. But do you tend to find them a little boring? If so, maybe it’s all in your ear.

A new study suggests that labeling veggies with flavorful foodie terms, like “dynamite,” “sweet-sizzlin'” or “twisted,” can make even basic dishes seem more indulgent. And that may lead people to eat more veggies.

What’s in a name?

The study took place in a college cafeteria. Each day, researchers labeled different featured veggie dishes in one of four ways:

  • Basic. For example, “green beans.”
  • Healthy restrictive. For example, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots.”
  • Healthy positive. For example, “healthy energy-boosting green beans and shallots.”
  • Indulgent. For example, “sweet-sizzlin’ green beans and crispy shallots.”

Only the labels changed—not the way the veggies were prepared or served.

Researchers found that more people chose the vegetable when the labeling was indulgent:

  • 41 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a healthy restrictive label.
  • 35 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a healthy, positive label.
  • 25 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a basic label.

According to the researchers, the findings could be a first step in busting a commonly held belief: that healthy foods aren’t as tasty as less-healthy choices. Labeling foods with exciting descriptions may make us feel like we’re indulging—not depriving—ourselves. And in the future, this approach may coax more people to eat healthy in many different dining situations.

The findings appear in a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Beyond superlatives: 3 ideas for making veggies more exciting

Try these ideas from the Produce for Better Health Foundation to entice your family to eat more good-for-you veggies (and don’t forget fruit!):

  1. Bring the heat. Add sliced mushrooms and diced tomatoes and onions to sliced green and yellow squash. Mix in some chopped jalapeño, sauté and serve over brown rice.
  2. Give spinach salad a fruity twist. Add your favorite fruits (consider cherries, mangoes or berries) and chopped walnuts to fresh spinach. Toss with an orange vinaigrette.
  3. Grill them up. Drizzle grilled zucchini with a little bit of olive oil. Add oregano or your favorite spices.

For even more exciting ideas on making tasty fruits and vegetables, check out this infographic.

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