Halfway down the list of the top 10 functional-food trends is healthy fats. Fat has become a complex issue. Although nearly three-quarters of us used low-fat products in 2005, and 69 percent of us fat-free foods, these numbers were down compared with 2001, when 82 percent of us used low-fat foods and 76 percent used fat-free foods.
Foods marketed as “low in saturated fat” or containing “no trans fatty acids” now have far greater influence on consumers than foods that are simply labeled “low fat”. The flip side to avoiding the so-called bad fats is an increasing trend towards eating the good fats. Olive oil is hot, along with any food containing omega-3 fatty acids, which includes some fortified breads, eggs and pasta.
Overall, these kinds of trends are encouraging. It shows willingness on our part to combat the obesity epidemic—where two-thirds of the U.S. population is either overweight or obese—and also to take greater responsibility for chronic-disease prevention.
We desperately want to eat our way to good health, though without too much sacrifice. We like healthy food, so long as it tastes good and is convenient to prepare. That’s where the food industry must play its part to keep consumers on a healthy path—however “healthy” is defined from year to year.
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