August 31st, 2009 09:10 EST
Research Reveals a Desire to use Food to Improve Health
MOST AMERICANS AGREE THAT FRUITS & VEGGIES ARE HEALTHY FOODS BUT NEED HELP ADDING MORE TO THEIR DIET
Demand for healthy food is growing, and a new survey has determined just which foods consumers perceive to be healthy. Accordingto latest International Food Information Council (IFIC) Functional Foods/Foods for Health Consumer Trending 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.
The IFIC has conducted their Functional Foods/Foods for Health Consumer Trending Survey every two to three years since 1998. Survey results provide ongoing insights into consumer interests and beliefs about foods and beverages and their roles in promoting health and wellness. The survey defines functional foods as including a wide variety of foods and food components believed to improve overall health and well-being, reduce the risk of specific diseases, or minimize the effects of other health concerns.
The survey also discovered that 89 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. That figure represents a significant increase from data obtained just two years ago. It goes on to say that consumers believe food can have a number of benefits including: improving heart health (85 percent); contributing to healthy growth and development in children (83 percent); improving physical energy or stamina (82 percent); maintaining overall health and wellness (82 percent); and improving bone health (82 percent).
While consumers say they want to eat foods for these benefits, the data suggests that they are struggling to follow through and incorporate these foods into their diet.
Elizabeth Pivonka is a registered dietitian as well as president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), the nonprofit entity behind the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters® national public health initiative. She says, "Eating fruits and vegetables is important to maintaining a healthy weight and may reduce the risk of many diseases, but adding more to your diet can sometimes feel like a challenge."
Pivonka has several tips to help consumers add more fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks.
- Instead of a pasta or rice based side dish, serve a leafy green salad
- Make sure to add lettuce or spinach along with plenty of sliced veggies to your sandwich
Serve fruit as a dessert
- Add frozen or canned veggies to soups and stews at that last minute for a boost of nutrition and flavor
- Keep dried fruit on had in the car or at your desk at work for a quick, healthy snack
- Drain and rinse any kind of canned beans and add them to your salad for added fiber and protein
- Add diced veggies to meatloaf, meatballs, and hamburgers
- Keep a bowl of fresh fruit out on your kitchen table or counter for grab-and-go snacks
- Next time you eat fast food, try fruit and vegetable menu items such as salads, sliced apples, mandarin oranges and baked potatoes
- Make breakfast smoothies with fresh or frozen fruit, low-fat yogurt, and 100 percent juice
Pivonka says, "Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is easy when you remember that all product forms count; fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice. Every step taken toward eating more fruits and veggies helps, so try to fill half your plate with them at each meal."
For more information about Fruits & Veggies-More Matters, and even more tips for adding more fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks, visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org. The Fruits & Veggies-More Matters website also features a Video Center that outlines proper storage methods and demonstrates healthy, fast recipe preparation step by step as well as other fun and useful tidbits of produce information that makes adding more fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks easy and delicious.