People who are willing to try new food and experience new flavors often end up with a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to those who are picky about their meals, according to new study conducted by Cornell University researchers.

In a study published in the journal Obesity, Dr. Lara Latimer and her fellow researchers at Cornell's Food and Brand Laboratory surveyed 502 women living in the United States regarding their eating habits.

They discovered that participants who had tried eating a wider variety of foods, such as rabbit, seitan, polenta, beef tongue and kimchi, consider themselves as healthier eaters, more physically active and more conscientious about the health benefits of the food they eat compared to less adventurous eaters.

The study findings also showed that these brave eaters, which the researchers call "food neophiles," also had lower BMI ratings and better appreciation for cooking.

As far as socializing goes, women who were more adventurous eaters said that they were more likely to have their friends over for dinner, according to Latimer, formerly of Cornell University but has since become part of the University of Texas.

Study co-author and Cornell researcher Dr. Brian Wansink explained that the results of their study can help inform dieters-especially women-about the potential benefits of trying out different food.

He said that the findings demonstrate how being an adventurous eater can provide an effective way for people to reduce or maintain their weight without experiencing the restrictive feeling of going on a strict diet.

Wansink added that instead of eating the same kind of salad, people can try adding something new to their meals. He said that it could also inspire dieters to start a fun and healthy food adventure.

"There's a real advantage of liking a wide variety of food and being adventurous," Wansink said in a video discussing the study findings.

"If nothing else, you seem to have a lot more fun in life, and it might even get you a little healthier."

Holly Hicks, a wellness coordinator and registered dietician for the Riverside Wellness and Fitness Center-Peninsula said that placing a greater variety of food on plates increases the likelihood for an individual to get a full range of nutrients needed to optimize the body's health.

To do this, Hicks recommends filling plates with foods that create a "rainbow of colors," choosing at least 20 different types every day. These could also include more exotic foods such as Belgian endive, cardamom, blood orange and quinoa.

The Cornell University study is featured in the journal Obesity.

Photo: Chloe Lim | Flickr

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