Pioneering research has shed new light on what drives people's basic food preferences, indicating our choices may be smarter than previously thought and influenced by the specific nutrients, as opposed to just calories. Researchers set out to re-examine and test the widely-held view that humans evolved to favor energy dense foods and our diets are balanced simply by eating a variety of different foods. Contrary to this belief, its findings revealed people seem to have "nutritional wisdom," whereby foods are selected in part to meet our need for vitamins and minerals and avoid nutritional deficiencies.
In total 128 adults participated in two experiments. The first study showed people prefer certain food combinations more than others. For example, apple and banana might be chosen slightly more often than apple and blackberries. Remarkably, these preferences appear to be predicted by the amounts of micronutrients in a pair and whether their combination provides a balance of different micronutrients. To confirm this, they ran a second experiment with different foods and ruled out other explanations.