Functional foods and supplements that address specific health conditions are finally poised for strong growth and could lead the packaged goods category to greater heights in 2007, according to several market research sources. The trend reflects consumer movement away from general wellness products in favor of items that claim to help prevent more serious ailments such as heart disease or arthritis.
Except for the 1918 flu epidemic, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States every year since 1900. And the latest data from the American Heart Association (AHA; Dallas) suggest that the deadly effects of cardiovascular disease (CVD) aren’t likely to abate any time soon: In 2004, the most recent year for which AHA has compiled statistics, CVD was an underlying cause in more than one-third of all U.S. deaths.
At the World Health Organization’s (WHO; Geneva) upcoming European Ministerial Conference on Counteracting Obesity, which will be held in November in Istanbul, Turkey, many of the world’s leading health experts will convene to develop new plans for dealing with the obesity epidemic. With any luck, functional foods will be one of the strategies that helps makes a difference.
Let’s focus on milk and soy. To say which of these two protein sources is more significant would be to detract from their uniqueness. Milk, after all, is animal based, and soy is vegetable. Milk protein accelerates physical recovery from numerous ailments, and soy protein mitigates heart disease.
The good news is that there’s growing evidence nutritional supplements can play a key role in treating people with heart disease.
How will the new products fare in the market? That depends on how the science behind them stacks up. Here’s a look at the latest crop of ingredients to keep an eye on in 2006.
Recent natural products research suggests that ingredients derived from common foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, may have beneficial effects on heart health. While scientists need to complete more research before they can have an accurate picture of how effective these ingredients are, excitement is building among consumers and manufacturers.
The dietary supplement industry is on an upward curve, spurred by more university research and scientific partnerships linking together U.S. and international developers, suppliers, and research centers. One result of this positive trajectory is that raw-material suppliers are now refining and introducing compounds backed by science that address the issues that matter most to consumers: cardiovascular health, antioxidant and immune support, healthy glucose levels, smooth digestion, weight control, energy and stress reduction, and detoxification.