February 17, 2008

Numbers Game: Answer

Which of these functional food categories saw a 243 percent increase in new products last year?

Answer: Cardiovascular Health

Mintel, a consumer, media, and market research group, released some interesting sales figures earlier this week.

2007 saw the release of 558 new functional food products, of which 148 where related to cardiovascular health.

In turn, cardiovascular health saw the largest increase (in 2006, 43 new food items were released).

Keep in mind that functional foods -- processed foods with added nutrients for health benefits, such as Corazonas tortilla chips made with oat bran -- are not necessarily the most nutritious choice.

For instance, I recently saw potato chips cooked in avocado oil at a local grocery store.

They were, of course, advertised as "heart healthy."

True, avocado oil is better than butter or lard, but these are still potato chips.

The fact that they are fried in avocado oil does not make them as nutritious as eating an actual avocado.

Food companies love functional foods, though.

Sprinkle some vitamins on a gummy bear and suddenly parents start seeing it as a decent snack, rather than sugary candy -- even if you jack up the price!

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