Packaged Facts: Five Key Functional Food Ingredients for 2015

Good news for retail dietitians: the message that good nutrition is vital for a vibrant, healthy life is getting through to consumers. In fact, 90 percent of Americans believe that certain foods offer health benefits beyond basic nutrition, according to research published in "Functional Foods: Key Trends & Developments in Ingredients," by Packaged Facts.

The Packaged Facts report highlights five nutrients and ingredients for 2015:

Protein. Protein’s popularity continues for potential benefits like hunger control, long lasting energy, weight loss and management, sports recovery, and maintaining muscle mass with aging. Interest in plant proteins is on the rise.

Omega-3 fatty acids. Wider recognition of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in relation to heart health, cognitive and brain health and immunity, and knowledge that most Americans don't consume enough, keeps this dietary component in the news, despite lower consumer interest, according to the report.

Vitamin D. More than half of consumers (53 percent) say they want more sources of vitamin D. If the proposal to make vitamin D content mandatory on the nutrition facts panel is approved, more marketers may add it where allowed, especially in dairy products and cereals. 

Magnesium. The body needs this essential mineral for numerous vital functions and more than 300 biochemical reactions. Ongoing research is investigating magnesium’s role in preventing and managing disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Most Americans don’t meet magnesium recommendations through diet, affording an opportunity for manufacturers to call out good sources on product labels.

Microalgae. An entirely new class of whole food ingredient, microalgae allows functional food and beverage manufacturers to offer traditional, high-fat foods with significantly reduced fat, cholesterol and saturated fat, while adding protein, micronutrients and antioxidants, without GMOs or allergens.