Monday, April 3, 2023

Nutrition Tip - The Name of a Dish Can Have a Dietary Impact

Cooked vegetables on a white ceramic plate

Are you having trouble getting the recommended 2-4 cups of vegetables in your daily meal plans? Do your children (or you) reject anything green on your plate except Jello?

The reason may be the descriptive name applied to the food.

Research reported in JAMA Internal Medicine states that “labeling vegetables with indulgent descriptors significantly increased the number of people choosing vegetables and the total mass of vegetables consumed compared with basic or healthy descriptions, despite no changes in vegetable preparation.”

What are indulgent descriptors? Instead of emphasizing what is missing in the food (e.g., “low calorie,” “low salt,” or “low fat”), try describing the vegetables with positive words. These could be flavor descriptions such as “jalapeno and garlic,” “citrus-infused,” or “tangy,” or information about the preparation method, such as “glazed,” “roasted,” or “seasoned with.”

This research can also remind us that preparing vegetables does not need to result in bland food. Try some of the following techniques:

  • Oven roast veggies, then sprinkle with a little Parmesan.
  • Sauté veggies just until barely soft in a little olive oil, then sprinkle with minced garlic or chopped herbs such as basil, chives, oregano or thyme.
  • Steam veggies until cooked but still crisp or quickly blanch shredded greens, then squeeze citrus juice over them.

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