20 Most Hated Health Foods You Should Learn to Love

There’s no accounting for taste. But sometimes there’s no ignoring it, either. Despite your best intentions to eat a healthy diet, it’s incredibly difficult to choke down foods that taste awful. We all expect children to say things, such as, “Brussels sprouts are gross,” or “Beets taste like dirt.” But if we’re being perfectly honest, plenty of us retain those beliefs into adulthood — even though we know we’d be better off if we got over our hatred for kale, our aversion to lima beans, or our dislike of some other most hated foods.

Don’t get us wrong. Some healthy foods taste great. But others definitely make the list of our most hated foods, no matter how much we try to be adults and eat them politely. Read on to find out whether your food phobias are common or whether you’re alone in disliking whatever vegetable it was you struggled to choke down at childhood dinners.

1. Beets

beet being grated into a bowl
Beets number among many people’s most hated foods. | iStock.com

Beets quite famously number among the most hated vegetables. As The Atlantic reports, the problem “is that they taste like dirt.” In the U.S., you only infrequently meet somebody who grew up liking beets. Nobody likes the flavor or the gritty texture of canned beets. It doesn’t help that fresh beets don’t look so appetizing straight out of the ground. That means they probably don’t look that tempting in the cooler at the grocery store or farmers market.

But if you’re willing to give them a try, beets make a pretty nutritious addition to your diet. Researchers have found that beets — specifically, their juice — can lower your blood pressure. Beets are a great source of betaine, which is an important nutrient for the prevention of chronic disease. Still on the fence? Try out a recipe from The New York Times’ collection of “beet recipes even a beet hater can love.” Or turn beets from one of your most hated foods into one of your most loved meals with one of these delicious recipes.

2. Brussels sprouts

Fresh raw Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are healthy — but are also one of the most hated foods at the grocery store. | iStock.com/dulezidar

Slate refers to the Brussels sprout as “the American vegetable villain.” Spinach used to play that role — until Popeye “rescued” it in the 1930s. And then broccoli became a villain when President George H.W. Bush reviled it. But in 2008, a survey named Brussels sprouts the most hated vegetable. They’re bitter if they aren’t picked at the right time. Frozen sprouts taste similarly offensive. They feel slimy, too. And overcooked Brussels sprouts have a distinctly off-putting smell. No wonder this green veggie is one of the most hated foods in America.

Our veggie grudges aside, Brussels sprouts are high in fiber and in protein. Plus, scientists have put forth some evidence that eating cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, might decrease your cancer risk. Ready to give them another try? Try out Epicurious’s aptly named recipe for “Brussels sprouts for people who think they hate Brussels sprouts.” Or take our advice, and try out the best way to eat Brussels sprouts.

3. Carrots

cooked carrots on a plate
Many people’s lists of most hated foods include a few vegetables, such as carrots. | iStock.com

The Huffington Post scoured Chowhound and Serious Eats to find out what people talk about when they discuss the foods they hate. Many people like raw carrots. But the opposite seems true of cooked carrots. That’s probably because carrots are easy to overcook. When they spend too much time over the heat, they turn soft. And they can even get slimy, which is almost never a quality that you want in your food.

But even if you hate cooked carrots, scientists have found some good reasons for you to hold your nose and choke them down. Researchers determined that cooked carrots actually have higher antioxidant levels than raw carrots. Carrots also might decrease your risk of bladder cancer. Plus, they might even help in the treatment of leukemia.

The Kitchn has a few ideas on how to use carrots when you don’t really like the taste of them. A few suggestions? Make homemade stock, stews, cake, slaw, and picked carrots. Or play up carrots’ naturally sweet taste with these tasty recipes.

4. Cauliflower

cauliflower in a white bowl
Cauliflower easily makes the list of America’s most hated foods. | iStock.com

When it comes to cauliflower, The Huffington Post found some funny complaints. One commenter referred to cauliflower as “the poor man’s broccoli.” Others complained about its mealy taste. Still others are grossed out by its “brain-like look.” And it doesn’t help that boiling cauliflower is one of the worst ways to cook vegetables.

But if you can get past your distaste for cauliflower, your health stands to benefit. Cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, are rich in carotenoids, vitamins, folate, and minerals. They also contain compounds called glucosinolates, which break down into biologically active compounds that might inhibit the development of cancer. Want to get over your hatred of cauliflower? Food.com offers a recipe that promises “easy, elegant cauliflower” for people who hate the vegetable. Or give these surprisingly delicious cauliflower recipes a chance.

5. Cilantro

Cilantro on a taco
Genetics determine whether you love or hate cilantro. Its taste makes sure it numbers among some people’s most hated foods. | iStock.com

Cilantro, like many herbs, is low in calories but high in useful nutrients. But unlike most other (innocuous) herbs, cilantro is one of the most hated foods. If you hate it, the reason probably has something to do with your genetics. The New York Times reports that some people seem to be genetically predisposed to dislike cilantro. Also, the same or similar compounds that make up cilantro’s aroma also feature in soaps. That explains why, at least to some people, cilantro tastes like soap.

If you really hate the taste of cilantro, that’s probably not something that you can get around with creative cooking. After all, genetics are genetics. Cilantro’s major contribution to your diet is vitamin K. However, a quarter cup of cilantro provides just 16% of your daily intake of vitamin K. So you’d have to eat a lot of cilantro for it to fulfill your dietary needs. Nonetheless, you should give cilantro a try. There’s no better place to start than these better-than-takeout burrito recipes, most of which use cilantro.

6. Coconut

organic brown coconut
Coconut has become an incredibly trendy superfood — and one of the most hated foods in the nation. | iStock.com

The coconut finds a place on every list of superfoods. But plenty of people hate it. The Huffington Post explains that “it’s shredded coconut that takes the heat.” Coconut has a relatively mild flavor. But the publication posits that shredded coconut’s “hard-to-chew texture” might cause people’s disgust. However, even if shredded coconut makes your personal list of the most hated foods, you don’t have to forego its nutritional benefits completely.

Coconut is a nutritious superfood, with high levels of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You can also get a healthy dose of antioxidants by eating coconut. (To refresh your memory, antioxidants might slow down the aging process. They can also protect your body from free-radical damage.) Coconuts contain medium-chain fatty acids, which can actually help you lose weight. Want to give coconut another try? Check out these unique and healthy recipes to do something new with coconut. And read up on truths and lies about coconut oil.

7. Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese in a bowl
You don’t have to think hard to understand why cottage cheese is one of America’s most hated foods. Neither its texture nor its taste do it many favors. | iStock.com

One of the least surprising ingredients The Huffington Post numbered among the most hated foods? Cottage cheese. That doesn’t require much of a stretch of the imagination to understand. People complain that cottage cheese looks gross. It smells disgusting. And there’s pretty much nothing to combine with it that doesn’t taste weird or look like something that would be served at a nursing home. (Well, we might make an exception for these high-protein dishes.)

Cottage cheese offers several health benefits if you can stomach it. Most noteworthy, it’s a complete source of protein. That means it can help you reduce your risk of an amino acid deficiency. (Such deficiencies can be a problem, particularly if you eat a primarily vegetarian diet.) Cottage cheese also provides healthy fatty acids, which might reduce your risk of developing diabetes. To counter cottage cheese’s less-than-appealing reputation, BuzzFeed lists some delicious ways to eat this healthy food.

8. Eggplant

eggplant cut in half
The eggplant is one of our most hated foods, but at least it’s still one of our favorite emojis. | iStock.com

The same 2008 survey that pointed a finger at Brussels sprouts found that eggplant fares even worse than sprouts among children. The Awl notes that some common complaints include the spongy texture, bitter taste, or mushy feel of an eggplant. Fortunately, all of those problems result from improper cooking. But you might also want to keep in mind that eggplant isn’t as healthy as you probably think it is. (It lacks the vitamins and nutrients found in many other vegetables.) So if you really hate it, you can definitely skip it.

However, researchers have found that eggplants contain compounds that inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the liver and colon. Plus, a flavonoid pigment contained in the eggplant’s peel might decrease tumor cell invasiveness. MyRecipes collected a variety of recipes for you to try even if you dislike eggplant. Or, if you like stuffed veggies, you can try something novel with eggplant.

9. Kale

kale in a bowl
Anyone but the most…

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