What’s the link between flavor and nutrition?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 15:49
Comments Off on What’s the link between flavor and nutrition?

MPPH02763J0000[1] Q. Does the amount of flavor say anything about the nutritional value of fresh produce?  For example, bananas at the big name grocery stores taste like bananas to me. A smaller local grocery store has bananas and other produce for much lower prices, but the bananas are very, very bland, almost watery tasting. Any ideas why? Are more flavorful bananas more nutritious?

A.  An interesting question, and one with no clear or definitive answer–short of sending the bananas to the lab for nutritional analysis.

Here's some conjecture on what might be going on:  The bland bananas may have been picked before they were ripe, spent longer in storage, or simply be a variety that was bred for characteristics other than flavor…such as shelf life. 

But what's the link between flavor and nutritional value?  Fruit that tastes sweeter is likely to be higher in natural sugars than fruit that is bland. But it's a little harder to guess about the relative level of other nutrients. You wouldn't be able to taste whether the banana was higher or lower in potassium, for example.

Many nutrients, such as vitamin C, start to fade pretty quickly after fruit is picked. To the extent that better flavor indicates fresher produce, it might also indicate more nutritious produce.  On the other hand, minerals like potassium hold up much better in storage, so the amount of potassium in a banana probably has more to do with the quality of the soil it was grown in than the freshness of the produce.

So, flavor and nutritional quality aren't necessarily linked. But if better-tasting produce motivates you to consume more of it, that most most definitely increases the nutritional quality of your diet! The nutrient values for fresh produce that you'll find here on
NutritionData.com represent average values for the foods found in
typical grocery stores around the country.

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