Salmon, trout and albacore tuna may reduce the risk of heart disease. So may olive oil, almonds, walnuts, Cheerios and Boca Burgers.
These foods, which go beyond basic nutrition and help fight disease or make you healthier, are what shoppers increasingly want.
At a health food store in St. Louis, Inda Schaenen loaded her cart with whole-grain bread, brown rice, beans and green leaf lettuce — all labeled as "superfoods."
"I have three growing children, so I look for foods high in vitamins, fiber and protein," said Schaenen, a 44-year-old writer. "I don't want growth hormones and pesticide."
Wild Oats, a chain of health food stores, is promoting 20 different "superfoods," from berries to seeds and yogurt. Not only are they healthier because of fewer calories, they add vitamins and minerals, cancer-fighting antioxidants and other healthy components.
"We wanted to say, `Here are things you should be adding to your diet, rather than taking things away,"' said Wild Oats spokeswoman Sonja Tuitele. "If you're going to buy nuts, choose almonds. If you're going to buy deli meat, choose boneless, skinless turkey breast."
Nine in 10 shoppers have bought foods because the packages had health or nutritional claims, according to a 2004 survey by the Food Marketing Institute, which represents retailers and wholesalers.
Companies introduced 658 new whole-grain products last year, market research firm A.C. Nielsen said. Also, there were 825 new products claiming to be good or excellent sources of calcium.
But buying healthier food is not yet a trend, said analyst Harry Balzer of the consumer research firm NPD Group.