For all those parents out there who struggle to feed their children vegetables, Dutch researchers have some advice: keep them crunchy by steaming or boiling them.
Researchers from Wageningen University tested two readily available and commonly eaten vegetables - carrots and french beans - that had been cooked in six different ways on groups of primary school children to find out which was their preferred way of eating them.
The carrots and beans were mashed, steamed, boiled, stir-fried, grilled and deep-fried and then served to the children, whose ages ranged from 4 years to 12 years.
A control group of 18-25 year-old adults was also served the same vegetables prepared in the same methods.
Most kids don't eat enough veggies
The researchers, who said that children in many countries ate fewer vegetables than the amount recommended by healthcare professionals, found that the majority of children liked the steamed or boiled vegetables the best.
They attributed this to the fact that the carrots and beans retained their original taste, colour and crunchiness, and that this way of cooking, which many children were familiar with, kept the vegetables' surface uniform and without any brown colouring.
"Vegetable liking was determined by a complex mixture of a uniform appearance, textures that are easily controllable in the mouth and the typical, familiar vegetable taste," the study's authors said in a statement.
"Although future research should confirm our findings, our study indicated that it is promising to offer children vegetables that are as crunchy as possible, with the typical vegetable taste and a uniform surface without brown colouring and without a granular texture." - (Reuters Health, March 2010)