Nov. 16, 2004 -- I say potato, you say banana. I prefer veggies, you'd rather grab fruit. These fruit and vegetable loves are a window to your "food personality," according to a new report.
It is the cover story in the November issue of Journal of the American Dietetics Association.
"Fruits are not vegetables," writes researcher Brian Wansink, PhD, professor of nutrition and marketing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
And Americans are, by and large, strong-minded people with definite fruit and vegetable preferences, he says. Most people tend to prefer either fruits or veggies -- not both, he notes. What we prefer says much about our inner food-loving soul, and how adventurous we are with regard to food.
His report is based on survey results from 770 adults, all answering questions about their food-related tendencies; 508 of them showed definite preferences for fruits and vegetables, Wansink reports.
Fruits and Vegetables: Revealing Your Inner "Foodie"
Fruit lovers were following their sweet tooth. "Fruit lovers also tended to be much less adventurous in cooking; they had fewer dinner parties; they tended to stick to old standards if they cook at all. They liked convenience foods, not necessarily fast food, but prepared foods."
"Vegetable lovers are quite the opposite," he says. "They tended to like foods that are more savory, spicier. They claimed to drink wine more frequently at meals, to like the tannic flavors of wine. They also were more adventurous cooks who entertained more with dinner parties, had friends over more often."
Effort (or lack of it) is the driving force when people choose fruits and vegetables, he says.
"With fruit, it's just wash, peel, eat," says Wansink. "If you look at vegetables in general, they require more preparation, more effort to prepare, you have to peel and cook them. There has to be a willingness to put effort into cooking. Those people are more likely to try new recipes, to have people over for dinner."
Adventurous cooks tend to appreciate vegetables, he says. They enjoy their talent for working with vegetables when cooking for others.
Tweak Fruit and Vegetable Tendencies
These insights can help us adjust our food-eating tendencies, he says.
Fruit lovers should eat more fruit -- but branch out: "Try eating different types of fruits. Our research suggests people like you are more likely to grow into a better fruit lover, rather than trying to become a vegetable lover. Eat more fruit instead of sugary snacks or desserts. Don't give up the ship just because you don't like asparagus and broccoli. You can eat fruit!"
Vegetable lovers: "Don't try to eat more fruit if you don't feel like it. Focus on eating more vegetables. You're more predisposed to becoming a vegetable lover, even more so than you are now. Lean into your strengths rather than forcing yourself to eat more bananas each month," says Wansink.
Add Creativity to Fruits and Vegetables
Sheah Rarback, MS, RD/LD, is a dietitian with the University of Miami School of Medicine and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Rarbuck also writes a food column for the Miami Herald newspaper. She offered her perspective.
She agrees, "For fruit lovers, there's no easy road to broccoli," she says. "I've been working on my husband for a long time, to convert him to broccoli. It just doesn't happen."
But little tricks can lure fruit lovers to veggies, Rarback tells WebMD. "A little sweetening can bring veggies into your life -- like glazed carrots with a drop of brown sugar, for example. Try adding another (unglazed) vegetable to the carrots. "You don't want to overdo it," she says.
Honey can be a secret ingredient. Honey-roasted almonds atop green beans, and honey-mustard salad dressing on a green salad, can transform fruit lovers to vegetable connoisseurs, she says.
But for dessert, "you can't just hand someone an apple, and say 'have a good time,'" says Rarback. "You've got to do a little something with it. Maybe cut up an apple or pear; put some vanilla yogurt on it; sprinkle on some nuts."
Put salted nuts on that dessert, and you'll lure vegetable lovers to fruits, she adds. "A lot of Indian and Mexican recipes put seasonings we might find peculiar on sweet foods, to create a tangier rather than sweet flavor that vegetable lovers prefer. In Mexican cooking, many sweet recipes have chili peppers in them. In Indian cuisine, chutney is sweet but spicy, too." Fruit and vegetable lovers can appreciate both of those.