A number of people struggle to accept certain fruits and vegetables, therefore are unable to follow a healthy diet. The lack of acceptance of vegetables could be due to lachanophobia (fear of vegetables) or fructophobia (fear of fruits) or flavour (bitterness, sweetness or sourness) of both fruits and vegetables. Some reasons of fear of fruits and vegetables may include: (a) thinking the seeds might germinate inside my stomach and (b) there might be insects inside the fruits or on vegetables which I might end up eating alive.
The fructophobia and lachanophobia affects intake of dishes which include salads of fruits and vegetables, for example, mixed fruit pots or Mediterranean diet. By avoiding, fruits and vegetables these people miss out on meeting their 5 – a – day daily portions, therefore missing vital nutrients such as vitamins and anti – oxidants.
In addition to phobia, some people are natural tasters of bitterness or sweetness which also affect the preference of certain fruits and vegetable and hence their dietary intake of these foods. Tasters of bitterness tend to prefer sweet fruits such as citrus fruits, mango, pineapples and hate bitter fruits such as grapes, granadilla, apricot, grapefruits, and mandarins. The preference for sweet fruits tend to increase calorie intake due to free sugars which could possibly lead to weight gain. The long-term impact of these sugars could lead to development of cardiovascular diseases and related metabolic syndromes. The bitterness in fruits and vegetables is due to anthocyanins, important anti – oxidants which help reduce the risk of cancer therefore bitter tasters are predisposed to a number of cancers. Since tasting for bitterness in due to the homogenous dominant allele for tasting (TT) known as super tasters or heterogeneous (Tt) mild tasters. About 75% of the population fall into the tasters categories meaning 75 % of the population is predisposed to cancer development due to possible avoidance of anthocyanins in bitter fruits and vegetables.
Bitter or sweet fruits and vegetables – there is everything in them for us from increasing vitamins and anti – oxidant to preventing development of long term illnesses i.e cardiovascular disease and/ or cancer.