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Well, your penchant for culinary adventure may be keeping you slimmer and healthier than your picky eating peers. That’s according to a new study out of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
In a survey of about 500 women, those who reported eating a wide range of non-mainstream foods also reported healthier eating in general and more physical activity than those who ate a narrow range of dishes. They were also more likely to be concerned with the nutrition of their food.
Some of the foods lead author Lara Latimer (who is now at the University of Texas in Austin) found in the diets of the healthier women: rabbit, kimchi, polenta, beef tongue, bean sprouts and the gluten-based protein called seitan. (Interesting additional finding: These women were more likely to have friends over for dinner and to cook in order to connect with their heritage.)
While the study doesn’t find a causal link between a love of international foods and having a healthier weight, researchers suggest the behaviours they report are correlated with an ability to lose excess weight or maintain a healthy weight.
What this could mean for dieters
"These findings are important to dieters because they show that promoting adventurous eating may provide a way for people—especially women—to lose or maintain weight without feeling restricted by a strict diet," said coauthor Brian Wansink, the director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, in the release.
Trying foods new to you could also help you manage chronic health problems, according to some health professionals. Speaking to CBS News about the study, Lauren Graf, a clinical dietitian for a cardiac program at Montefiore Health System in New York City, said she often counsels her patients to try new, more diverse foods to help them develop healthier habits.
"Branching out past your comfort zone encourages you to develop a taste for foods that are likely healthier and more nutrient-rich," she said. "You are also less likely to get bored with meals or feel deprived."
Read on for superfoods to try this season and why you should try sprouted foods.