Pills, potions and powders seem to be taking a back seat to “real-food nutrition.” That’s according to a list of top functional food trends presented earlier this year at the Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) Wellness 2012 meeting. Consumers are looking to tap vitamins and minerals from the foods and beverages they eat and drink instead of from synthetic substitutes.

A. Elizabeth Sloan, PhD, president of Sloan Trends Inc. and contributing editor of IFT’s Food Technology magazine, presented the research, which included data from various scientific, food and consumer research sources. “Consumers are preferring to get their nutrients naturally and their health benefits naturally, versus [from] fortified foods or vitamin and mineral supplements,” Sloan said in a press release. “This has been going on for 20 years. What’s new is that it’s being put into action.”

The data show that from 2009 to 2011 the number of people making an effort to serve meals naturally higher in vitamins and nutrition grew by almost 17% (from 36% to 42%). Concurrently, vitamin and supplement users cut back significantly on their use of these products, citing three reasons:

  1. They believe that the quality and benefits of nutrition in foods are best.
  2. They doubt the bioavailability of supplements.
  3. They are concerned about supplements’ long-term effects on the digestive system.

Here are the Top 10 Functional

Food Trends listed in the article:

  • real-food nutrition
  • “mini-managers” (buying the same food staples but replacing traditional purchases with healthier choices, such as whole-grain bread versus white bread)
  • bioavailability
  • protein power
  • plant-based foods
  • gourmet nutrition
  • the new risks (stroke, heart attack prevention)
  • first aid (relief from sore throat, constipation, sleeplessness)
  • kids, dads and grannies (appealing to these groups)
  • liquidification