A recent consumer survey, Shopping for Health, conducted by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Prevention magazine indicates that nutrition continues to be a driving force in purchase decisions. Approximately 1500 adults were surveyed and provided the following picture:
- 32% of shoppers state they are buying more foods based on nutritional components versus last year
- 55% of shoppers switched to whole grain bread
- Greek yogurt purchases are up 9 points from 2011
- Foods with high protein are on the rise, at 33 percent
What you need to know:
While these are encouraging findings, we’d like to point a few out a few issues:
Nutritional components such as fiber, protein, and fat only tell a part of a product’s story. Nutrition labels are easy to “engineer” by adding the desired nutrient as an ingredient into foods. The best examples are children’s cereals that nutrition wastelands until they are sprayed with a concoction of vitamins and minerals.
So when we read that half of us are buying whole grain, we wonder what that means. Are people buying 100% whole wheat bread, or are they buying multigrain, which can simply mean a mixture of two types of refined flours?
Another example of a nutrient people are actively seeking is fiber. People see that a snack bar has 40% of their daily fiber needs and jump for joy. But reading the ingredient list, we see that the fiber is mostly added in the form of inulin (read our post Farting Fiber).
Protein is another interesting nutrient. Apparently we can’t seem to get enough of it, although the majority of Americans are consuming well over 100% of their daily protein needs. With all the meat and dairy we eat, there is no need to go out of your way to eat more protein. If you buy a snack that’s high in protein, check the ingredients to make sure it comes from real ingredients, not processed whey or soy powders.
What to do at the supermarket:
Don’t obsess over specific nutrients without reading the ingredient list. Only by using both will you be able to make a sound decision. If you need help, your Fooducate app is nearby…