Eating Colorfully for Your Health
The American mindset is slowly changing from one that views vitamins as a way to avoid deficiencies to one that seeks specific nutrients to prevent disease and make us feel and look better.
So we look to Japan and Europe, where preventive healthcare is pervasive throughout their cultures, for innovations in functional foods, Coggins and Nielsen say.
In Japan, businessmen are munching on chocolates infused with the amino acid GABA, to reduce stress. “It’s a huge hit,” Nielsen says. In the U.S., mood-altering functional waters have taken the lead. For instance, Glaceau’s “B–relaxed” Vitamin Water contains theanine, another amino acid that may have a calming effect. Other amino acids and herbs are intended to sharpen mental focus.
And color is hot. Huetrition, the concept of eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables for a greater scope of nutrients, is going functional with products like Knorr’s Colourful Soups, now in Europe. Each variety—green, yellow, orange and red—combines nutrients from several like-colored fruits and vegetables.
In Italy, Parmalat is making soups and sauces with purple potatoes. Kellogg has introduced cereals in South Korea fortified with black soybeans and black sesame seeds. And in Japan, you can drink cocoa fortified with black soybeans. These purple and black plant compounds contain anthocyanins, or antioxidant flavonoids.
Nielsen says the Center for Culinary Development, based in San Francisco, is working with food companies to develop some huetrition-variety functional foods. “They’re a little more on the fresh side,”she says.
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