TELLING children that eating their greens will make them big and strong is the classic last-ditch strategy for parents.
But teaching youngsters about the benefits of healthy food really does encourage them to clean their plates, a study has found.
Researchers presented three to five-year-olds with green peppers, lentils, tomatoes and quinoa at school over six weeks.
Even when they said they disliked the foods, they ate twice as much when teachers made remarks such as "quinoa makes you run fast and jump high", "lentils help you learn and grow" and "tomatoes keep you from getting sick and are good for your heart".
Jane Lanigan, who led the study of 87 children by Washington State University, said: "Every child wants to be bigger, faster, able to jump higher. Using these types of examples made the food more attractive to eat."
The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour.