How to Expand Your Flavor Profile: Why Trying New Things is Healthy and Good for Your Brain 

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

A group of friends enjoying at Japanese pub
For some people, there is a level of comfort in having a predictable diet. It might be knowing that most days breakfast will be oatmeal and coffee, or maybe fruit and toast. The usual lunch might be a big salad with some protein, while dinner is typically chicken or fish served alongside some veggies and potatoes or rice. But what if this routine feels like a rut? There are easy ways to expand your meals’ flavor profile, and branching out to try new things is not only healthy, it’s good for your brain.
Whether it’s because we’re busy or maybe it’s just convenient, lots of people in this country stick to a pretty narrow rotation of home-cooked meals and a handful of food take-out spots. Then there are the picky eaters among us who don’t want to stray too far from the group of foods they know they like. While it’s not likely a person will flip from a boring to adventurous eater overnight, there is a lot to be said for adding new foods and flavors into your daily routine.
Expanding your brain. Trying new things – whether it’s picking up a new hobby or trying a new kind of food – can benefit your brain. In an interview on the radio show Fresh Air, well-known neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explained how experiencing something new can generate new brain cells. He described the process as similar to new roads being built or trails being blazed within our brains. So, think of trying new fruits, vegetables or types of food as an adventure that might just give you a bigger brain.
Big health benefits. Parents know that allowing children to explore all different kinds of food flavors is a great way to help them develop a broad palate and increase the chances of them learning to love healthy foods. It’s really the same for adults. According to a Cleveland Clinic dietician, there are several health benefits for adults who add new foods into their diet – even if it’s just one or two different items going into your grocery cart each week. Once you broaden your flavor profile, here are some of the advantages you can expect:
A slimmer waistline. Adding in a few new fruit or vegetable flavors each week does more than just add more healthy foods to your plate. It can mean you are dropping inches while making yourself healthier from the inside out. Rotating in new foods – especially if they are healthy foods in a rainbow of colors – can increase the diversity of the good bacteria in your digestive system. This, in turn, keeps you healthier and boosts your immunity.
A longer life. Studies have shown that people who rotated more than a dozen healthy foods into their diet had longer life expectancies than those who did not. This offers people the opportunity to shift how they think about foods. Instead of focusing on limiting all the unhealthy foods they eat, dietitians say they should be concentrating on how to pack new types of fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean protein into their weekly meals. That way, the good-for-you ingredients will start to outweigh the bad.
A burst of nutrients. Rotating more healthy foods into your diet means the color scheme in your refrigerator will likely blossom. So will the amount of nutrients you’re putting into your body. Picking fruits and veggies to try from all the color families – red, orange, yellow, green, purple and more – means you’re giving yourself a nutritional and antioxidant boost. The same goes for sampling a variety of nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and whole grains. Think of it as doing something nice for your body at every meal.
Photo credit: Getty Images

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
No Personal Healthcare Advice or Other Advice
This Web site provides general educational information on health-related issues and provides access to health-related resources for the convenience of our users. This site and its health-related information and resources are not a substitute for professional medical advice or for the care that patients receive from their physicians or other health care providers.
This site and its health-related information resources are not meant to be the practice of medicine, the practice of nursing, or to carry out any professional health care advice or service in the state where you live. Nothing in this Web site is to be used for medical or nursing diagnosis or professional treatment.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed health care provider. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any new treatment, or if you have any questions regarding a health condition. You should not disregard medical advice, or delay seeking medical advice, because of something you read in this site.