Today’s 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 health and wellness research by The NPD Group, Chicago. In fact, about a quarter of U.S. adults are trying to manage a health or medical condition by making healthy food and beverage choices, according to the study, “Health Aspirations & Behavioral Tracking Service.”  

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% of their meals and in-between snacks. Meanwhile, 9% of adults say a top nutrition goal is protecting brain health, and when asked about foods that promote brain health, young adults were 45% more likely to express an interest in these products compared to 35-44-year-olds.

Among the emerging superfoods consumers expressed the most interest in trying are elderberry, cannabidiol (CBD) and Mānuka honey. Also up and coming are reishi mushrooms, ashwagandha herb and microgreens.

“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, 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.”