Fruits, Veggies, Fish Rank as Top Foods for Health: Survey

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Fruits, Veggies, Fish Rank as Top Foods for Health: Survey

08/16/2009
While in the midst of a nationwide debate over health care, Americans are giving a clear indication that one tool they can use to improve their health is food.

According to new International Food Information Council (IFIC) Functional Foods/Foods for Health Consumer Trending Survey, eighty-nine percent of Americans agree that certain foods have benefits that go beyond basic nutrition, and may reduce the risk of disease or other health concerns, a significant increase from just two years ago.

“This year’s survey findings show us that Americans are making the connection that foods can play an important role in achieving optimal health,” said Elizabeth Rahavi, associate director of wellness at IFIC. “Consumers’ awareness of many food and health relationships has reached an all-time high.”

According to the 2009 survey, the top “functional foods” named by consumers are: 1) fruits and vegetables; 2) fish, fish oil, seafood; 3) dairy (including milk and yogurt); 4) meat and poultry; and 5) herbs/spices, among others. Beyond their interest in individual foods, the research further shows that people are increasingly associating them and their components with specific health benefits such as:
• calcium and vitamin D for bone health;
• whole grains for reduced risk of heart disease;
• antioxidants for protection against free radical damage;
• probiotics for digestive and immune health; and
• omega-3 fatty acids for cognitive development, especially in children.
While consumers say they want to eat foods for these benefits, the data suggest they are struggling to follow through and incorporate them into their diet.