A new study has shown that a healthy, balanced diet may protect against lifestyle-related diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes.
Our parents have always told us, and now scientists are confirming it in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: eating a variety of foods directly contributes to good health.
The study, co-directed by researchers from the University of Helsinki's Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare and the University of Tartu in Estonia, focused on the relatively recent concept of "food neophobia" (a reticence to try and develop a taste for new foods).
Over the course of seven years, the study monitored over 40,000 subjects aged 25 to 74 from Estonian and Finnish cohorts' behaviors relating to food neophobia and its impact on the quality of the participants' diets and attendant lifestyle-related diseases.
An increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes
The study has revealed that food neophobia is often linked to insufficient fiber, protein and intake, mono-unsaturated fatty acids, as well as an increase in saturated fat and sodium intakes and increased blood levels of inflammatory markers.
According to the researchers, food neophobia also increases the risks of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. The study also points out that the impacts of fussy eating coexist independently of participants' weight, age, socioeconomic status, gender or living area: "If we can intervene in deviant eating behaviors, such as food neophobia, already in childhood or youth, [it] will help to prevent potential future health problems early on," said Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare Research Professor Markus Perola, who co-authored the study.
"Hereditary factors and our genotype only determine our predisposition to food neophobia. Early childhood education and care and lifestyle guidance in adulthood can provide support in the development of a diverse diet," explains Perola.