Not too long ago, indulgence and low carb were the hottest trends to hit supermarket shelves. Now, all those labels touting net carbs are gone, and few indulgent choices are urging you to live for the moment.
Watch words on labels today are: less sugar, high fiber, fortified with, and most important, convenient. Manufacturers are scrambling to produce foods that will:
keep your healthy
keep you skinny
help you spend less time on both
Reformulated for your health
As the baby boomers march toward retirement healthier than any generation before them, they are determined to do whatever it takes to guarantee many more years to come.
Manufacturers are working overtime to offer good health or disease prevention in every box, bottle or can you purchase. Margarine, yogurt, orange juice and even chocolate are packed with cholesterol-lowering sterols. Foods are pumped full of calcium and folic acid (a B vitamin) to make up for the fact that we drink too little milk and eat too few fruits and vegetables. You can buy fortified energy bars; drinks with added vitamins, minerals and herbs; and cranberries, nuts, and oils rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Do we need them all?
In some cases, yes. These products can ensure that we eat a healthier selection of foods. In other cases, it’s doubtful. Granola bars and drinks overloaded with nutrients will never replace good old-fashioned fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Up with Fiber, Down with Sugar
Ice cream technology has invented slow churning, which delivers the creamy taste of full-fat ice cream without artificial sweeteners or fat substitutes. Sugar substitutes such as sorbitol and sucralose allow manufacturers to produce familiar products — cakes, cookies, and candies — with far less sugar. But, keep in mind neither process turns ice cream or cookies into choices that can be eaten with abandon.
With the release of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, which urge us to eat at least 3 servings of whole grains foods a day, there has been an explosion of whole grain products. Cereal manufacturers have reformulated entire product lines to include whole grains. Pasta companies are making hybrid pasta (half whole-grain, half not). And, every bread company is producing lines with higher fiber content. There is even white whole-wheat bread to allow diehards to eat their white bread and have their fiber, too.
No one wants cook, but everyone wants tasty, convenient and nutritious foods to eat. Halfway homemade fits the bill. Microwaveable brown rice, preseasoned chicken, exotic salad mixes, frozen sauced vegetables, precut fruits and vegetables, and all-in-one skillet meals allows us to throw together dinner in no time. You’ll be seeing even more innovative packaging and sophisticated flavors as this category grows.
And you thought grocery shopping was boring! Next time you shop, take time to explore the new, ever-expanding choices available — but keep in mind that not everything that is new is necessarily good for you.