Call them whatever you like—Gourmets! Gastronauts! Foodies!—but fascinating new research from Cornell's Food and Brand lab, published in the journal Obesity, reveals that adventurous eaters also deserve a new label: healthy.
Defying the stereotype of foodie as foie-gras- and uni-gobbling glutton, the national survey of the eating and lifestyle preferences of 502 women showed that participants with the widest-ranging palates (eaters who dabbled in seitan, beef tongue, Kimchi, rabbit, polenta and more) also happened to be more physically active and mindful of the wholesomeness of their diets. They were also statistically more likely to cook at home or invite friends over for a meal—another habit that recent studies show plays a key role in maintaining a healthy weight and balanced diet (Apologies again, picky eaters.)
So, how can the less culinarily courageous among us apply these lessons to our everyday lives? The takeaway seems not to be that eating eel is guaranteed to turn anyone into a size 6—but rather that a spirit of adventurousness, whether applied to food or exercise or entertaining, can be a powerful aid in preventing dieters from falling into unhealthy ruts.
Indeed, in a statement following the study's publication, co-author, Brian Wansink, Director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University (and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life), sums up his message to calorie-counters as thus: "Instead of sticking with the same boring salad, start by adding something new." That fennel and farro salad? Those kimchi brussels sprouts? Says Wansink: "[They] could kick start a more novel, fun and healthy life of food adventure."