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Eat the Yucky Stuff

Eat the Yucky Stuff

Julie Deardorff | Tulsa World

As a child, Kristine Hinrichs of Milwaukee routinely choked down boiled cabbage so she would be allowed to leave the dinner table. It wasn’t until Hinrichs grew up and left home that she made a startling discovery: Cabbage was nutritious – and could be delicious.

It’s not easy giving certain foods a second chance. But if you’re looking to add some nutritional powerhouses to your diet, as Hinrichs was, food experts say it might be worth revisiting dishSes you’ve despised. “Our taste sensations, interpretation and appreciation can change over time,” said Dr. Donald Hensrud, a Mayo Clinic weight management specialist. “There’s also some conditioning that goes on; we learn to like certain foods, and we get used to them over time.”

Take milk. Years ago, we typically drank it whole and complained that skim milk tasted like water. But skim grew on us. “Now when you go back to whole milk, it tastes like cream,” Hensrud said.

You also may have an aversion to foods that weren’t prepared right or, like cabbage, have a sulfurous odor. But it’s possible that “if you don’t get that smell, you find something like broccoli more pleasant,” said Marci Pelchat of the Monell Center, a Philadelphia-based taste and smell research institute.

Hensrud doesn’t recommend forcing anything down, but he does think most of us underestimate our ability to change. Consider experimenting with the following polarizing foods.


Turnoffs: Strong, fishy taste. Tiny bones. Reputation as a frugality food.

Turn-ons: High in vitamin D and loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which protect your heart and brain. Lots of protein, calcium and selenium. Low on the marine food chain so toxins such as mercury don’t accumulate. Inexpensive.

How to eat them: Avoid sardines packed in vegetable oil, which is high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Try “a squeeze of lemon, toasted red chile, extra virgin olive oil and mixed green herbs over garlicky al dente whole-wheat fettuccine,” said Dr. John LaPuma, a chef and the medical director for the Santa Barbara Institute for Medical Nutrition and Healthy Weight.