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Taste of kale makes unborn babies grimace, study shows

Even buns in the oven don’t like kale.

The taste of the bitter leafy green causes unborn babies to grimace with a “crying face,” while carrots are more likely to evoke a smile, according to a new study.

According to a team of researchers from Durham University in England, fetuses were twice as likely to make the extrapolated expression after their mothers swallowed kale capsules compared to powdered carrot pills.

In contrast, when the expectant mothers ate the carrots, the unborn babies were more likely to make a “smile face” according to the study, published Wednesday in the journal Psychological Science.

“[It means] the mother hasn’t finished eating yet [when] the fetus is already aware of, or can sense, what the mother has eaten,” one of the study’s authors, Benoist Schaal, told The Guardian.

To test the ability to taste flavors in the womb, according to the study, the researchers took ultrasound images of about 70 unborn babies between 32 and 36 weeks, about 20 minutes after their mothers had eaten the vegetables.

According to a new study, babies in the womb react with a “crying face” when their mothers eat kale.
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Pregnant women ages 18 to 40 were divided into three groups, including kale-eaters, carrot-munchers, and women who were given no food at all.

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The mothers-to-be were asked not to eat anything for at least an hour before their babies’ faces were scanned.

Researchers then analyzed 180 ultrasound images of the fetuses, frame by frame, to study their facial expressions — and found that kale likely made the little ones green in the gills.

The fetuses were found to be more likely to "smile face" when the mothers ate carrot capsules.

The fetuses were found to be more likely to make a “smile face” when the mothers ate carrot capsules.


An example of a fetus grimacing after the mother eats powdered kale capsules.

An example of a fetus grimacing after the mother eats powdered kale capsules.


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It can be a bitter pill to swallow, but exposure to the once-trendy leafy greens and other vegetables in the womb likely makes for a less fussy child, said Beyza Ustun, the study’s lead author.

“What [we] know from other research that if the mother has a varied diet such as fruits and vegetables etc, babies are much less picky eaters,” she said.

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