Next Millennium Nutrients
New research is redefining the picture of healthy eating.
Forty years ago, a person who dined regularly on steak and potatoes would have been considered the picture of health.
Today a healthy plate needs a more colorful palette: blueberries rich in anthocyanin, red peppers loaded with lycopene, and salmon full of fatty acids that help reduce the risk of cancer.
The crunchy, brightly colored vegetables sitting on cocktail-party vegetable platters are now regarded as nutritional heavyweights. They're rich in carotenoids -- nutrients that contain powerful antioxidants and strengthen the immune system.
It's been less than a century since researchers discovered the benefits of antioxidants such as vitamin C. But the next century of nutrition research will focus less on bottled vitamin supplements and more on the fruits and vegetables that provide nutrients naturally.
We know more now about the phytochemicals -- chemicals found in plant life -- that make certain foods healthy. Health-conscious consumers have created a demand for "superfoods," ranging from calcium-enriched orange juice to echinacea-laced soft drinks.
Food With a Purpose
One of the hottest sectors of food manufacturing today is "functional foods" -- foods that have been fortified with natural herbs and vitamins to make them more healthful. One manufacturer has already introduced a red wine pill made from the skins of merlot grapes, which could help counteract the damaging effects of cholesterol and keep blood vessels healthy.