Health/Wellness National

NPD Research: U.S. Consumers Look To Food For Medicinal Value

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While it’s commonly understood that good nutrition promotes general health, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how their food and beverage choices can help them manage and, in some cases, reverse certain medical conditions, according to research by The NPD Group. NPD finds that about a quarter of U.S. adults are trying to manage a health or medical condition by making healthy food and beverage choices.

Younger adults, ages 18-24, are particularly interested in using foods to improve their health. Last year, young adults chose foods and beverages with healthy profiles for 19 percent of their meals and in-between snacks. For example, 9 percent of adults say a top nutrition goal is protecting brain health, and when asked about foods that promote brain health, young adults were 45 percent more likely to express an interest in these products compared to 35-44 year-olds, according to NPD’s Health Aspirations & Behavioral Tracking Service.

Growing interest in food as medicine is evidenced by the types of emerging superfoods, or foods believed to be nutritionally dense and thus good for one’s health. Among the emerging superfoods NPD is tracking, consumers expressed the most interest in trying: elderberry, which contains antioxidants, and is believed to relieve colds, fight the flu and boost the immune system; cannabidiol (CBD), which is an active ingredient in cannabis and may help treat conditions like pain, insomnia, and anxiety; and Mānuka honey, which comes from the Mānuka flower and has perceived benefits of healing wounds, soothing sore throats, improving digestion and more. Also, up and coming as superfoods are reishi mushrooms, Asian mushrooms that is thought to boost immune systems among other health benefits; ashwagandha herb, sometimes referred to as “Indian ginseng,” which is believed to act as a sedative; and microgreens, young vegetables that have an intense aromatic flavor and concentrated nutrient content.

“There are a variety of superfoods, like kale, quinoa, and acai berry, that have mainstreamed and found their way into a myriad of foods,” says Darren Seifer, NPD’s food and beverage industry analyst. “Rather than being one of many offering a superfood, understanding the trajectory of emerging superfoods helps food marketers be ahead of the curve in making calculated decisions about new product investments.”

NPD offers data, industry expertise, and prescriptive analytics to help businesses measure, predict, and improve performance across all channels, including brick-and-mortar and e-commerce.

About the author


Erica Sacra

Outside of her web editing duties, Erica enjoys watching movies and spending time with friends and family. She loves trivia and Kentucky Wildcats basketball.

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