America's 10 Hottest Food Trends

Food Shoppers Seek Healthy Fare, With Some Indulgences

From the WebMD Archives

April 19, 2006 -- U.S. food experts have peeked in the nation's grocery carts and spotted 10 food trends.

See if those trends, detailed in Food Technology's April issue, match what's in your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator.

  • Foods for at-risk kids. Extra weight, diabetesdiabetes, high blood pressurehigh blood pressure, and high cholesterolhigh cholesterol aren't just for grown-ups anymore. So kids' food products are trimming fat, sugar, and food allergens while boosting calcium and whole grains. Fresh fruit and yogurt remain top snacks for younger kids.
  • Smaller servings, limited calories. Low-calorie items and smaller portions are in demand. Small sizes may become popular at restaurants, too. No word on whether you'll pay less to get less food or fewer calories per serving.
  • Focus on phytochemicals. Don't let the term throw you off; it just means natural chemicals in plants. Green tea, berries, and chocolate are some of the plant-based foods touting claims of healthy chemicals including antioxidants and flavonols.
  • Foods with multiple health perks. Americans want foods that multitask for better health, such as items that are low in fat, cholesterol, and salt (for heart health) with a modest calorie count to help people watching their weight.
  • Fat facts. The number of products touting "low," "no," or "reduced" trans fats has shot up in recent years. "Low in saturated fat," "fat-free," and "cholesterol-free" are other popular buzzwords on food packaging. More food labels are also featuring omega-3 fatty acids for heart health.
  • Foods for older shoppers. Food marketers have an eye on America's agingaging population, so expect to see foods aimed at common health concerns among elders, including osteoporosisosteoporosis, digestive problems, arthritisarthritis, and menopausemenopause. For instance, some yogurts highlight probiotics (helpful bacteria) for digestion.
  • Glycemic, gluten, and grains. The low-carb craze has waned, but items that are low on the glycemic index are still hot. Those foods don't cause dramatic spikes and crashes in blood sugar. "Gluten-free" fare is also catching on, with more people becoming aware of gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity. Glutens are a form of protein found in some grains.
  • Natural solutions. Organic foods are "in," especially for kids' foods. Meat and poultry from animals raised on vegetarian feed with access to pastures and without hormones or antibiotics are also catching on.
  • Performance boosters. Products are promising to boost energy and mental sharpness. Flavored bottled waters are projected to grow by nearly 50% by 2009.
  • Fun favorites. Food shoppers may have healthy intentions, but they've still got a taste for treats. Many items aim to skim sugar, fat, and calories off sweets and desserts without sacrificing taste.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on April 19, 2006


SOURCES: Sloan, A. Food Technology, April 2006; vol 60: pp 23-40. WebMD Medical Reference: "The South Beach Diet: What It Is." WebMD Medical Reference provided in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: "Digestive Diseases: Celiac DiseaseCeliac Disease." News release, Institute of Food Technologists.
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