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Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;60 Suppl 2:40-50. doi: 10.1159/000335337. Epub 2012 Apr 27.

Complementary foods and flavor experiences: setting the foundation.

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  • 1Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. mennella@monell.org

Abstract

Increased fruit and vegetable consumption early in life may lead to life-long intake of fruits and vegetables, which in turn may be beneficial for weight control and other health outcomes in later life. Although health officials worldwide recommend delaying solid foods until 6 months of age, younger infants often receive solid food, which may affect later obesity rates. The timing of introduction to solid foods is important both nutritionally and developmentally and may affect acceptance of foods both in infancy and later in life. Infants can clearly discriminate the flavors of different fruits and vegetables. Repeated flavor experiences promote the willingness to eat a variety of foods: infants will consume more of foods that have a familiar flavor and are more accepting of novel flavors if they have experience with flavor variety. Many flavors that the mother either ingests or inhales are transmitted to her milk and/or amniotic fluid. Mothers can help the transition from a diet exclusively of milk or formula to a mixed diet by providing the infant familiar flavors in both milk or formula and solid foods. Exposure to a variety of flavors during and between meals appears to facilitate acceptance of novel foods. Providing novelty in the context of a familiar food might prove to be an optimal combination to progressively accustom infants to a diversity of novel foods. When repeatedly exposing infants to flavors of some vegetables that have bitter tastes, mothers should focus not on infants' facial expressions but on their willingness to eat the food and should continue to provide repeated opportunities to taste the food. Introducing children repeatedly to individual as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables, both within and between meals, might help them be more accepting of fruits and vegetables, which is difficult to enhance beyond toddlerhood.

Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.

PMID:
22555188
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3363345
Free PMC Article

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