British consumers over the age of 50 are experimenting with more foreign food, and Italian has also usurped Indian in the "most frequently eaten" stakes.

According to a survey conducted by NOP Consumer for Saga Holidays, of 1,000 UK respondents aged 50 and over, over 50% of people over 50 eat Chinese food on a regular basis, making it the most eaten foreign food for this age group.

Italian was ranked a close second, putting Indian cuisine (supposedly the nation's favourite) in third place. Spanish, French, Thai and Mexican food are also regularly consumed, proving that the over 50s are more adventurous than ever before.

Exploration of foreign cuisine has also found our national cuisine lagging behind: over half of those polled said that they thought foreign food was tastier. The same proportion said that they now eat foreign food on a regular basis, with slightly more men than women likely to indulge.

A high 94% agreed that foreign holidays have opened us up to a greater variety of food and made us more willing to experiment. Sampling local food and drink was the second most important part of the holiday experience, as 63% of those surveyed considered it a significant factor compared to just 21% to whom returning home with a tan was important. Sightseeing came first.

Commenting on the research, popular chef Brian Turner from Ready Steady Cook said: "Foreign holidays are certainly influencing our tastes in food and as we travel further afield our tastes will undoubtedly become even more diverse.

"Supermarkets have reacted to customer demand in recent years and foreign products such as ciabatta, couscous and tofu now readily available compared to, say, ten years ago when consumers would have had to have visited specialist shops. The rise in Italian food has been fuelled by major supermarkets. People are wanting to eat the same products at home that they have sampled on holiday and they are expecting to buy them locally and easily."