What’s in a name? Veggies taste better when given cool monikers

By Melissa Blouin • Published: August 31st, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Most people know they should eat vegetables to stay healthy, but many fail to do so. A new report suggests people might be enticed into eating more veggies if there is a little zest — in the name, not the dish.

Previous studies suggest people think food labeled as “healthy” doesn’t taste as good as “regular” food. Researchers at Stanford University wondered if that was because of the food or because of the label.

To find out, they set up an experiment in a college cafeteria. Over 46 days, they offered eight different types of vegetables — beets, corn, green beans, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, zucchini, bok choy and mushrooms, and carrots. Each type of vegetable was prepared the same way every time, but each day the researchers labeled them using four different types of names. One day, diners could eat “corn,” and the next, “rich buttery roasted sweet corn.” On the third day they ate “reduced-sodium corn,” and on the fourth, “vitamin-rich corn.”

They found people were 25 percent more likely to eat vegetables with snazzy names than those just called, say, carrots. And they were 35 to 40 percent more likely to choose vegetables with an indulgent label than when the veggies were labeled with a healthy positive label, such as “wholesome,” or a healthy restrictive label such as “lighter choice.” Also, people consumed more vegetables on days when the vegetables had cool names than they did on days when the same vegetables had ordinary or healthy labels.

So the next time you serve your family a healthy vegetable dish, try to jazz it up with a spicy new title, and perhaps they will eat more of that nutritious food.