Posts Tagged “healthy eating”
It is difficult to beat the nutrition that fresh fruits and vegetables deliver in each bite, according to a recent analysis by market research company Numerator, which confirms a growing number of consumers, especially younger shoppers, agree.
This report forecasts in the next five years, U.S. shoppers will prioritize unprocessed, fresh produce consumption to support wellness goals. This back-to-basics health focus would mean increased demand for fresh produce, exceeding fresh fruit and vegetable category growth of the past five years.
Increasingly, shopper habits will reflect a focus on healthy eating choices grounded in food-as-medicine over vitamins and supplements. With millennials raising families, immigration bolstering U.S. population growth and Gen Z consumers gaining purchasing power, health trends focused on nutritious diet choices will accelerate in the next five years, according to Numerator.
In its “Population Preview: The Next Trends by the People Who Drive Them” report, Numerator delivers purchasing analysis and insights, predicting U.S. consumer behavior for the next five years, sourced from first-party, consumer behavior information and U.S. Census data.
“Although consumers find vitamins and supplements important, younger households have become more focused on what they consume [versus] how they supplement,” said the report. “As millennials age, we could see health be defined as fresh produce and alternative meats, and a rise in products meant to offset fatigue and deliver convenience.”
Additionally, Gen Z and Millennials spend a larger share of their grocery dollars (+8%) on produce than older generations and 69% of Gen Z shoppers claim they monitor food and beverage choices, said the report.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. population grew by only 0.1% in 2021. Declining birth rates, coupled with an uptick in deaths, have resulted in the slowest population growth rate since the founding of the nation. As the U.S. population shifts older, U.S. Census modeling predicts foreign-born households are likely to drive population growth in the next five years.
According to Numerator’s analysis, these first-generation immigrant households will prioritize scratch cooking and source a diverse range of flavors, revealing yet another opportunity to market fresh fruits and vegetables to an evolving U.S. demographic.
Research finds that eating grapes regularly leads to unique gene expression patterns, reduces fatty liver, and extends the lifespan of mice consuming a high-fat western-style diet.
In comprehensive studies published recently in the journal Foods, it was reported that the long-term addition of grapes to the diet of mice leads to unique gene expression patterns, reduces fatty liver, and extends the lifespan of animals consuming a high-fat western style diet. The research team was led by Dr. John Pezzuto of Western New England University.
Pezzuto, who is an author of over 600 papers in the scientific literature, said he was especially amazed by these results. “We have all heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’ which is obviously true since we all start out as a fetus and end up being an adult by eating food. But these studies add an entirely new dimension to that old saying. Not only is food converted to our body parts, but as shown by our work with dietary grapes, it actually changes our genetic expression. That is truly remarkable.”
What is the effect of this alteration of gene expression? As shown in this paper, fatty liver is prevented or delayed. Fatty liver is a condition that affects around 25% of the world’s population and can eventually lead to untoward effects, including liver cancer. The genes responsible for the development of fatty liver were altered in a beneficial way by consuming grapes. In ancillary work, not only is the expression of genes altered, but metabolism is also changed by dietary grapes. This study was recently published by a collaborative team led by Dr. Jeffrey Idle in the journal Food & Function.
Studies of grapes add an entirely new dimension to the saying ‘you are what you eat.’
In addition to genes related to fatty liver, the work found that the grape-supplemented diets increased levels of antioxidant genes. According to Pezzuto, “Many people think about taking dietary supplements that boast high antioxidant activity. In actual fact, though, you cannot consume enough of an antioxidant to make a big difference. But if you change the level of antioxidant gene expression, as we observed with grapes added to the diet, the result is a catalytic response that can make a real difference.”
Another remarkable effect demonstrated in this research was the ability of grapes to extend the lifespan of mice given a high-fat western pattern diet. The high-fat western pattern diet is known to be associated with adverse conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Adding grapes to the diet, which did not affect the rate of consumption or body weight, delayed natural death. Although translating years of lifespan from a mouse to a human is not an exact science, Pezzuto notes that his best estimate is the change observed in the study would correspond to an additional 4-5 years in the life of a human.
Precisely how all of this relates to humans remains to be seen, but it is clear that adding grapes to the diet changes gene expression in more than just the liver. In studies recently published in the journal Antioxidants by Pezzuto and his team of researchers, it was found that grape consumption alters gene expression in the brain. At the same time, grape consumption had positive effects on behavior and cognition that were impaired by a high-fat diet, suggesting that the alteration of gene expression was what produced this beneficial response. More studies are needed, but it is notable that a team led by Silverman at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) reported that the daily administration of grapes had a protective effect on brain metabolism. This new research indicates that this is due to alteration of gene expression.
“Consumption of Grapes Modulates Gene Expression, Reduces Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, and Extends Longevity in Female C57BL/6J Mice Provided with a High-Fat Western-Pattern Diet” by Asim Dave, Eun-Jung Park, Avinash Kumar, Falguni Parande, Diren Beyoğlu, Jeffrey R. Idle and John M. Pezzuto, 5 July 2022, Foods.
According to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, people are usually wrong when ranking how well they eat, particularly when they think their diet is healthy.
USDA and University of Central Arkansas researchers looked at data from 9,757 American adults who were asked to complete a food survey and rate their diet on a scale from “poor” to “excellent.”
The researchers wanted to find out whether a single, simple question could be used as a screening tool for nutrition studies — to replace or complement the detailed dietary questionnaires commonly used in nutrition research, the American Society for Nutrition reports. Previous studies have found that self-rated health is a strong predictor of morbidity and mortality, but there is scant research on whether self-rated diet quality is predictive of the actual quality of one’s diet.
Researchers then evaluated participants’ eating habits and graded them (from A to F) based on the Healthy Eating Index which assigns points for eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein. It also gives points for avoiding processed foods, refined grains and sugar and saturated fat.
Results showed that 85% of participants inaccurately rated their own diet, almost all of them by ranking it as healthier than it really was, the American Society for Nutrition reports.
Lead author of the study Jessica Thomson, a research epidemiologist with USDA, said most adults overrate the quality of their diet, sometimes to a substantial degree.
Meanwhile, 71% of participants ranked their diet as good, very good or excellent. However, only 12% of the participants’ diets ranked that highly in terms of “healthy eating.” The study showed 70% of the participants’ diets were given an F, but only 6% of people self-assessed their diet as such.
Researchers said the difference between the ideal healthy diet and what people were actually eating was typically a lack of whole grains, greens, legumes, seafood and plant-based protein, and too much sodium and saturated fat.
But what they were getting right was the importance of protein.
Further research could shed light into what factors people consider when asked to assess their diet quality, Thomson said.
“It’s difficult for us to say whether U.S. adults lack an accurate understanding of the components of a healthful versus unhealthful diet or whether adults perceive the healthfulness of their diet as they wish it to be—that is, higher in quality than it actually is,” Thomson said in a release. “Until we have a better understanding of what individuals consider when assessing the healthfulness of their diet, it will be difficult to determine what knowledge and skills are necessary to improve self-assessment or perception of one’s diet quality.”
The importance of lower prices as a way to promote the purchase and consumption of fruit and vegetables has been highlighted by Researchers from Deakin University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN).
The study was released after the first Australian evidence that cutting prices can be an effective way to get people to buy more fresh produce.
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the C-PAN “Supermarket Healthy Eating for Life” (SHELf) trial found that a 20 per cent price reduction in fruit and vegetables resulted in increased purchasing per household of 21 per cent for fruit and 12 per cent for vegetables over the price reduction period.
Crucially, the study also found that the price reduction worked equally well across both low and high income groups – good news for low income groups who are at particular risk of poor diets and associated ill health.
The study, the first of its kind ever done in Australia, was led by Professor Kylie Ball from C-PAN and focused on female primary household shoppers.
“Women remain primarily responsible for food selection and preparation and as household food ‘gatekeepers’, represent important targets for nutrition interventions.
“We also know that individuals from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds tend to have lower intakes of fruits and vegetables and higher intakes of energy-dense, nutrient poor foods than their more advantaged counterparts.
“High costs are often given as a reason that people don’t eat more fruit and vegetables, but until now we didn’t know much about how effective price reductions might be.
“A staggering 95 per cent of the Australian adult population do not eat enough fruit and vegetables for good health, so strategies to help people to eat more fruit and vegetables are urgently needed,” she said.
The C-PAN study is the first rigorously designed trial in Australia and one of only a few in the world to test how price reductions in real world settings where people select and purchase food influence purchases of different foods and beverages
Sprouts is known for healthy, organic and natural, convenient, fresh, local and affordable produce and groceries.
Based on its integration of those trend-forward attributes and its successful financial model that has helped it absorb two rivals and triple in size in the last three years, the Phoenix-based chain has been selected for the award.
“Sprouts is at the intersection of two mega-trends in the industry today — health and wellness and value, and that’s really what we hang our hat on,” said Steve Black, chief information and marketing officer, Sprouts, in an interview with SN. “That’s the model we’ve built for the last 10 years — to make healthy eating easy, understandable and affordable. That’s what we talk about with our tag line, ‘Healthy Living for Less.’
As the chain’s president and chief executive officer, Doug Sanders told SN in a separate interview at the launch of the company’s recent initial public offering that Sprouts is well positioned to be a gateway for shoppers of conventional supermarkets seeking a more healthy diet.
While traditional supermarkets seek to lure some share of consumers’ food spending away from restaurants by touting the healthfulness of home cooking, Sprouts seeks to take that one step further and teach those shoppers how to live even healthier.
“Most people want to eat better, they just don’t feel like they can afford to, and they don’t know how to,” Black explained. “That’s the secret to our success — that it’s affordable, and we have team members in the stores that can help you understand the vitamins and the supplements.
If you are on a gluten-free diet, or wherever you are in life from a health perspective, we have people in the stores who can help you with that.”
The focal point of Sprouts’ relatively small stores is they measure about 25,000 to 28,000 square feet — is the farmers’ market-style produce display, where Sprouts leverages its longtime relationships with growers and suppliers to make a statement on price. Founder Henry Boney began his food retail career with a farmers’ market in 1943, and his legacy lives in the chain’s current positioning.
Stores devote about 15 percent of their floor space to produce, which generates about 25 percent of sales, according to Sprouts’ filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission related to its recent initial public offering.
Sprouts tooks to attract both the lifestyle customer and everyday supermarket customer by featuring fresh produce at prices that are significantly lower than the conventional supermarket. The emphasis on produce not only helps enhance the stores’ healthful image, but also helps drive repeat traffic.
Produce is the focal point of Sprouts stores, where customers are attracted to the selection and value, company executives say. Stores have a farmers’ market ambiance with low shelving for better visibility and to create a bright, open-air atmosphere.
Despite efforts by governments to promote the benefits of a healthy diet, consumption of fruit & vegetables in Western Europe and the US has declined over the past decade. A report by Rabobank cites lower incomes and perceived price increases, alongside strong competition from processed and convenience foods, as the major factors driving this trend. Producers, processors and retailers must all explore ways to inspire greater consumption of fruit & vegetables if the industry is to flourish.
Cindy van Rijswick, Rabobank analyst commented: “The challenge for the fruits & vegetables industry is to close the gap between what consumers say they want and what they actually do. Surveys have shown that, in principle, consumers are positive-minded about healthy eating, but in practice they are easily swayed by creative marketing of processed food and beverages and exhibit a strong bias for convenience products”.
On a household level there is a clear relationship between income and fruit & vegetable intake, meaning that in a tough economic climate, consumers become more susceptible to fluctuations in price. This impact can be exacerbated by the common misperception among consumers that unhealthy food is cheaper to eat than healthy food. Between 2006 and 2011, in both the EU and US, average consumer prices for fruits & vegetables in fact increased less than prices of the total food category, but consumption levels fell.
Processed foods have become a strong competitor for fruits & vegetables for different reasons: availability, taste, marketing, product range and convenience. Even when consumers do opt for a healthy choice, they will likely select processed foods in the ‘health and wellness category’ over a fresh option (despite the fact that research has found that two-thirds of US and half of all European products referencing fruit on their packaging contained no or only a trace amounts of fruit). It is extremely difficult for the fresh produce industry to match the sophisticated marketing efforts of processed health foods as most fresh products are sold unpackaged and unbranded.
There are three ways in which the industry must invest/evolve in order to boost consumption levels:
- Reducing inconvenience: Convenience is often cited as a barrier to consumption of fruits & vegetables, a claim that is supported by the increasing popularity of prepared (i.e. washed, cut, diced, sliced and packaged) products. The industry must continue to find innovative ways to boost convenience e.g. offering chopped vegetables that can be heated directly in the microwave without removing packaging
- Marketing based on more than health benefits: Most consumers are already aware that fruit & vegetables are good for them and governments are the best vehicle for promoting the benefits of a healthy diet. Therefore, the industry should focus on informing consumers about the convenience, taste, enjoyment and versatility of fruits & vegetables
- Better cooperation along the supply chain: keeping inferior quality products off the market is crucial to securing consumer buy-in. Short dedicated supply chains in which the brand owner is in control can enable partners to work together more closely to improve basic features, such as quality and freshness (e.g. by reducing the time to market or choosing the tastiest varieties)