From beans to blueberry yogurt and breakfast cereals, many foods contain health-promoting nutrients and components. Functional foods provide benefits beyond basic nutrition.
For more on functional foods, see foodinsight.org>>
But how much of the “beyond basic nutrition” do we understand? The International Food Information Council's most recent Functional Foods Consumer Survey was designed to answer this question.
Surveyed participants believe they have general nutrition knowledge; most consumers feel relatively confident they do. Those younger than 49 years old consider themselves extremely knowledgeable about nutrition.
Despite such confidence in nutrition knowledge, most survey respondents believe they fall short of meeting "all or nearly all" of their nutrient needs.
For some nutrients, consumers perceive their intakes are adequate when, actually, they are not. For nutrients such as vitamin D, potassium and fiber, the discrepancy between perception and reality is stark. But for nutrients such as vitamin C and calcium, consumers’ perceptions are on target.
The high percentage of consumers meeting their needs for B vitamins is a testament to the value of functional foods, especially fortified foods. Breads, rice and cereals — often fortified with B vitamins — may help consumers meet their B vitamin needs, without the consumer realizing it.
Understanding functional foods and their benefits can motivate us to improve our daily diet.
And it can help us determine the healthiest foods to put on our plate.
Brenda Smith is with the Okaloosa County Extension office in Crestview.