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Fussy Eaters Are Poor Eaters

Evidence linking food neophobia with low-quality diets encourages picky eaters to try new foods.

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Variety is the spice of life, and when it comes to what we eat, it may also extend our life. In a study co-authored by researchers from the University of Helsinki’s Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare and the University of Tartu in Estonia, individuals who exhibited signs of food neophobia—a reluctance to try unfamiliar foods—had lower-quality diets overall and were at greater risk for certain health conditions, including type 2 diabetes.

Over the 7-year study period, less adventurous eaters tended to have lower intakes of important nutrients like fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and often ate higher amounts of saturated fat and sodium. Also, tests showed that they had higher inflammatory markers and higher levels of fasting insulin in their blood (two risk factors for maladies such as heart disease and diabetes).

Fussy eating can lead people to gravitate toward less-healthy food and, by doing so, restrict consumption of a variety of nutrient-dense edibles. It’s never been a better time to take a bite out of celery root and tempeh.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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