A shift in thinking is happening in supermarket aisles across the country according to Shopping for Health 2011, the 19th in a yearly study released by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Prevention, and published by Rodale Inc. What used to matter most to shoppers is which undesirable characteristics their foods were devoid of: fat, sugar, salt, calories, etc. Now, fortification and the inclusion of key health ingredients are on the rise, with fiber (44%) being the most sough-after component; whole grain (36%), protein (27%), Omega-3 (23%) and antioxidants (16%) follow.

“While the main criteria for healthy foods was previously determined by ingredients it did not contain, today’s shoppers are now instead wondering what’s in their food, seeking to better understand the nutritional components of what they eat,” says the Director of Consumer Insights for Prevention, Cary Silvers.

About half of shoppers have bought cranberry juice, dark chocolate, or almonds in the past year, probably because there have been marketing campaigns and news coverage touting the health benefits of these so-called “superfoods,” so dubbed because they contain large quantities of specific nutrients. Shoppers are also purchasing green tea (43%), pomegranate juice (25%), and greek yogurt (21%).

Certain health claims are also proving to be attractive to customers. When purchasing food, heart health (73%) is the top health claim on packaging that matters to consumers. More energy (71%), digestive health (66%), and improving mind health (65%) follow closely behind.