Friday, October 12, 2007

More Consumers Name Soy A Functional Food

Nine out of ten consumers can name a food that benefits their health, such as calcium for bone health, according to the 2007 Consumer Attitudes toward Functional Foods/Foods for Health Survey* by the International Food Information Council. Consumers believe foods can provide benefits beyond basic nutrition; but getting them to select these foods and a healthy diet routinely challenges food companies and health professionals.

This year, soy and probiotics rose to the top of foods and ingredients that survey respondents believe have special health benefits. The 2007 survey found that 55 percent of respondents were able to recognize that soy protein and soy reduce the risk of heart disease, up from 41 percent in 2005. Awareness of the role of probiotics in maintaining a healthy digestive system and immune system role about 10 points over the same period. Although only about one in four (25 percent) consumers reported consuming soy to reduce cancer, twice that number of 50% of consumers were very or somewhat likely to consumer soy to reduce the risk of cancer. Likewise, 40 percent of consumers already consume probiotics to maintain a healthy digestive track, and 45 percent are likely to consume them in the future. The steady growth in soyfoods sales reflects the consumer interest in obtaining health benefits from soy.

According to the IFIC survey, the top ten functional foods named top-of-mind by consumers were: 1) fruits and vegetables; 2) fish, fish oil, seafood; 3) milk and other dairy products; 4) whole grains, including oats, oat bran, and oatmeal; 5) fiber; 6) green tea; 7) meat; 8) water; 9) certain herbs and spices; and 10) nuts. “Our survey results show the American public is receptive and eager to receive nutrition information about specific foods and their health benefits. They want to make wiser choices about what kinds of foods they eat based on a desire to improve their overall well-being and their physical health,” said Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, M.S., R.D., and Director of Health and Nutrition for IFIC.

* The 2007 IFIC Consumer Attitudes toward Functional Foods/Foods for Health Survey is a quantitative, web-based survey of 1000 U.S. adults, 18 and older that measures and tracks changes in consumer awareness, knowledge, behaviors and interest in functional foods, or any food or food component that may have health benefits beyond basic nutrition. This fifth edition of the survey was conducted April 10-24, 2007, and previous versions were fielded in 1998, 2000, and 2002, and 2005.

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