This is a problem that parents often face when it comes to dinner. A new study could shed some light on the reasons why many kids don’t like broccoli. 

Australian researchers discovered that children’s dislike for brassica vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and sprouts could have been caused by chemicals found in their mouths. 

Experts say that enzymes in vegetables can react with bacteria to produce unpleasant, sulphurous smells. 

The enzymes were the same in both their saliva and mouths. However, parents’ reactions to broccoli are not the same. Researchers believe this could be because they have learned to accept the food. 

Chemicals in the mouths of children could be behind their dislike of broccoli, cauliflower and sprouts, according to a new study into the brassica vegetables

According to new research into brassica vegetables, children may be allergic to certain chemicals in their mouths.

A new study has shown that bacteria in the mouth can produce the same enzyme as humans. The enzyme levels are correlated with the taste of broccoli. 

Research has shown that different enzyme levels are present in adults. However, the researchers weren’t able to determine if the levels were the same for children or what their impact on food choices was. 

Damian Frank and others from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Canberra (CSIRO), conducted this research to determine if saliva production of children and adults differs.

Dr Frank stated that it was well-known that taste preferences differ between children and adults due to innate likings and dislikes. 

He explained that children are more likely to prefer sweetness than their parents and have lower tolerance for bitterness.

The presence of Bacteria in human saliva may increase the amount of sulphur volatiles within the mouth. This could affect Brassica vegetables’ in-mouth taste and perception.

Broccoli are all members of the family of vegetables that also includes cabbage, collard greens, kale, and turnips, and often left to the side of a child's dinner plate

Broccoli, cabbage and collard greens are part of the vegetable family that includes turnips and kale. In fact, they often end up on a child’s dinner plate.

Using a technique known as gas chromatography-olfactometry-mass spectrometry, they identified the main odour-active compounds in raw and steamed Brassica vegetables, including cauliflower and broccoli. 

To rate the smells of the various compounds found in vegetables, they had to compare the opinions of their children and parents (aged between 6 and 8). 

Children and adults were least fond of the smell Dimethyl Trisulfide. It is rotten and sulphurous.

They then combined saliva samples and raw cauliflower powder to analyse the volatile compounds. 

Researchers found that there were a wide range of levels in the production of sulfur volatiles. Some had quite a bit, others very little.

These results could be explained by the similar microbiomes between parents and children.

Raw Brassica vegetables are disliked by children whose saliva contains high levels of sulphur volatiles. This relationship is not evident in adults who may eventually learn to like the flavor. 

Researchers say these findings offer a possible explanation as to why people don’t like Brassica veggies, but others do.  

These results were published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry of the American Chemical Society.