A Taste of Food Diversity

by | Mar 20, 2023

So often people think cultural and food diversity has to be sacrificed in order to achieve a healthy diet. When in reality, there are actually ways to have both without neglecting your health, culture, or traditions. These food preferences develop as a product of eating patterns and food choices within a cultural or ethnic group.

But making healthy choices doesn’t have to mean missing out on enjoying a taste of that beloved family recipe. Instead, just think about how this dish can be used to create a more balanced meal.

Take a look at your plate- What is missing? How are your portion sizes? Consider what you have and if there is anything you can have with it or add to it, in order to get your protein, grains, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruit. So instead of saying no to these special foods, practice embracing culture by utilizing traditional recipes to meet nutritional needs.

How to add more food diversity to your meals:

It’s all about adapting meals to find an enjoyable mix of old traditions and current styles. Another way to make modern foods taste like home is by incorporating flavors and seasonings familiar and common in your culture. This approach can also be used to achieve a better awareness of different cultures and acceptance of ethnic food patterns. Increasing cultural competency by trying new foods and exploring new flavors, can help connect people of different backgrounds. 

Culture has such a major influence on how and what a person eats. So to better understand and appreciate one another we can start by getting a taste of diversity.

A way to become more accustomed to cuisines around the world is to start cooking with flavors common in different cultures. This will expand both your awareness of what’s out there as well as your tolerance for trying new things. Ultimately allowing you to accept and incorporate a wider range of foods. Here is a list of some prominent seasonings, herbs, and other flavors found in these regions and make up an intrinsic part of surrounding cultures. 


Asian Flavors: Star Anise, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Green Onion, Orange, Red Pepper, Chilli Paste, Sesame Seed, Soy Sauce

Italian Flavors: Anchovies, Basil, Bay Leaves, Garlic, Onion, Oregano, Fennel, Parsley, Pine Nuts, Marjoram, Red Pepper, Rosemary, Sage, Lemon

Mexican Flavors: Chili Powder, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Cayenne, Garlic, Onion, Lime, Oregano, Cacao, Vanilla

German Flavors: Mustard Powder, Caraway, Cinnamon, Dill, Nutmeg, Ginger, Onions, Chives, White Pepper, Juniper Berry, Bay Leaves, Paprika

French Flavors: Bay Leaves, Black Pepper, Chervil, Chives, Tarragon, Green/White Pepper, Marjoram, Garlic, Onion, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Shallots

Spanish Flavors: Paprika, Cumin, Cayenne, Garlic, Onion, Parsley, Saffron, Oregano, Red Pepper

Indian Flavors: Aniseed, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Curry, Turmeric, Fenugreek, Black Pepper, Garlic, Ginger, Cilantro, Mint, Mustard Seeds, Nutmeg, Red Pepper, Saffron, Sesame Seeds, Chiles 

Middle Eastern Flavors: Cumin, Sumac, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Coriander, Cloves, Paprika, Thyme, Oregano, Mint, Ginger, Garlic, Lemon

Greek Flavors: Dill, Garlic, Onion, Lemon, Cinnamon, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Black Pepper

Caribbean Flavors: Allspice, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Curry, Garlic, Ginger, Lime, Nutmeg, Onion, Oregano, Thyme, Red Pepper

North African Flavors: Cumin, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cloves, Saffron, Garlic, Ginger, Citrus, Cilantro, Mint, Red Pepper, Turmeric

Challenge yourself

I encourage you to try using some of these flavors or even try a new restaurant to gain more awareness about what’s out there! Which flavors are you willing to try?



  1. Insight F. Diversifying MyPlate Series: Q&A on Culturally Sensitive Approaches in Nutrition. Food Insight. Published September 29, 2021. Accessed March 7, 2023. https://foodinsight.org/diversifying-myplate-series-qanda/
  2. CDC. Considering Cultural Food Preferences in Food Service. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published July 7, 2022. Accessed March 7, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/food-service-guidelines/strategize-and-act/cultural-food-preferences.html

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