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Gut health fact vs. fiction

With growing interest in gut health, the fresh produce industry has the perfect opportunity to capitalize on so-called functional foods—foods with the potential for positive health benefits beyond simple nutrition.

“Consumers do think about nutrition differently today; it’s more about proactive wellness,” said Valda Coryat, director of marketing for the National Mango Board. “Consumers are looking to add foods and beverages that have functional benefits or attributes to help them stay healthy and happy.”

Education is key.

Yogurt has long been known for providing live cultures of good bacteria. “We always hear about probiotics in yogurt,” said Kelly Atyeo-Fick, president of LiveWell Marketing in Mississauga, Ontario.

More importantly, she stresses, is for consumers “to hear the story of how fruit and vegetable consumption can improve gut health.”

Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer of Ciruli Brothers, LLC in Nogales, AZ, concurs. He, too, believes produce should be marketed more like yogurt.

“We need to get the word out that our products are good for gut health.” To do his part, Ciruli continues to help fund studies on fresh produce and gut health.

“Barriers to buying and consuming fresh produce typically revolve around selection, cooking, and storage,” said Bridget Wojciak, a registered dietitian with Kroger Health.

“The Kroger dietitian team offers in-store appointments at select store locations to share personalized nutrition advice on topics like gut health, chronic conditions, and preventative nutrition.”

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full version.