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The Not-So-Sweet News About Baby Food

Too much sweetness masks the taste of vegetables in most commercial baby foods.

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Baby food labeling

Well-meaning parents who want their young tykes to learn to love veggies may be fooled by misleading food labeling—this according to investigators at the Sensory Evaluation Center at Pennsylvania State University College of Agricultural Sciences.

In analyzing 21 vegetable-containing infant foods on the market in the U.S., the team discovered that most commercially prepared baby foods that claim to be made with dark-green vegetables are heavily sweetened with fruit purée—and often don’t contain much vegetable content at all.

Not only can this lead to a nutritional shortfall during a critical time of development, but it also teaches children to like the taste of sweet much more than the taste of vegetables. To learn to accept and like the flavors of vegetables—not just fruit-flavored broccoli—young kids need to experience them early on.

See also: When Fruit Is Not Really Fruit on Food Labels

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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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