Food preferences begin in the womb

Researchers in the U.S. have found that a liking for healthy food can begin in the womb.

They say women who follow a healthy diet when they are pregnant and breast feeding give their children a liking for such foods.

In a study by scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Research Institute in Philadelphia, it has been found that flavours from the mother's diet are transmitted through amniotic fluid and mother's milk.

They suggest a baby learns to like a food's taste when the mother eats that food on a regular basis.

They are urging pregnant women to adopt a stealthy but healthy approach to familiarising their unborn offspring to foods such as broccoli, cabbage and sprouts, which they may later reject.

Experiments carried out by the institute, found that where pregnant women were given large quantities of carrot juice or raw fruit such as peaches, after birth their children were keener on carrots and fruit than those of women who had not been given them.

Another trial carried out on new mothers who were breast feeding found that when the women started eating green beans, their children too after a period of time also acquired a taste for them.

Researcher Julie Mennella says babies are born with a dislike for bitter tastes and if mothers want their babies to learn to like vegetables, especially green vegetables, they need to provide them with opportunities to taste such foods.

The findings are supported by a French study which found that the children of mothers who drank aniseed-flavoured fluids, were more likely to accept the taste of aniseed as children and other research found the same effect with garlic.

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