Nielsen report: Hot trends in healthy eating

I read a lot about food trends, but few reports get my attention like the one published today by Nielsen. It's part 1 of their Healthy Eating Trends series. What's interesting is that, despite the lagging economy (or perhaps because of the uncertain financial times?), consumers have stayed loyal to healthy foods, spending billions on the category and pushing growth into the double digits for products with label claims for omega (e.g. omega-3 fatty acids), no high fructose corn syrup, antioxidants, gluten-free, probiotics, calcium, fiber and low glycemic, and no salt/sodium added.

No doubt about it: So-called "functional foods" are hot. We've seen scores of new products in each of these categories, and heard from readers asking for more information about this or that functional ingredient. In fact, we explained some of the more health-worthy functional ingredients in our 2009 story, "What's Fortifying Your Food?" and sorted through new findings on antioxidants in the recent "Antioxidant Update."

Sadly, consumers favor products labeled "natural" over those certified organic, according to the report. Though organic products have also maintained a steady following despite tightening budgets. (Read more about why I stand firm on my commitment to organics.)

But big numbers aside, the most interesting trends are the ones that I hear about from readers. So, let us know what's on your mind—and what's making your grocery list.

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