Is Broccoli Really Necessary?

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If you could eliminate one thing from the planet, what would it be? I would probably get rid of something like cruelty, war, or mosquitoes. My son would get rid of broccoli. End of list.

You have to wonder, why is it that the foods that are healthy for us are ones that many people, especially  kids, find so yucky? Are they really the best way for us to get those essential nutrients?

Well, the facts of the matter are, we don’t have to eat broccoli. All of the nutrients in it are available in other foods. However, it is a wonderful source for an amazing concentration of the really good stuff. And to get the same amount of deep down nurturing goodness, we might end up eating a lot more calories.

Of course the real issue isn’t that broccoli is good for us, we have all known that for a very long time. The real issue is why does it taste gross to many people? Well, the answer is technical and complicated, but basically, some people have more taste receptors on their tongues than others, and broccoli has a chemical called N-6 tropyluracil that about 20% of people taste as bitter.

The rest of us don’t taste the bitterness, but the vegetable has gained a reputation for that flavor in popular culture. So, even though once your kids start eating broccoli, they actually love it, they expect to dislike it. The fear of eating something they won’t like is a powerful thing for kids, and it can lead to arguments and tantrums.

One important thing to keep in mind while trying to figure out how to overcome the resistance to broccoli that most kids pick up, is to watch out for the authentic reaction that your kids will have if they are one of the 20% of people who does taste N-6 tropyluracil. If it really tastes bitter to them, and you insist that they eat it, they might decide that other vegetables are probably just as disgusting as broccoli.

Of course you should probably keep offering your kids broccoli, just be prepared to offer them something else that is also nourishing if they tell you it tastes bitter. A few foods that are nearly as chock full of the goodness that broccoli provides are: cauliflower, fish, spinach, blueberries, asparagus, citrus fruits, avocado, kale, and nuts to name a few.

While broccoli isn’t dropping off the menu in my home any time soon, I’m planning to keep a few more options on hand to keep my son nourished, and best of all, happy.

Is Broccoli Really Necessary?
-Naomi Tripi

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