Health foods that were once the preserve of specialist shops now fill our supermarket shelves. Television programmes such as Channel 4's You Are What You Eat have helped create instant experts of us all, bandying terms like "essential fatty acids" as we sip our herbal tea and decide which superfood to have for dinner. In his report Ten Key Trends for 2005, Julian Mellentin, director of the Centre for Food and Health Studies, says that "health - or wellness - is becoming the new standard for the food industry, every product must have some positive nutritional values".
Manufacturers have not been slow to jump on the bandwagon. There are fruit smoothies which claim to boost our immune systems, and fruit and seed bars which suggest they can improve our sex lives. But can we really eat ourselves better? Here are six products that would like to convince us we can.
The product In the UK at least the omega-3 unsaturated egg was on the scene as long ago as 1998. The omega-3 enriched chickens, meanwhile have only just appeared on the market this year under the name of Sparky. Manufactured by supplementing the hen's diet of wheat and soya with omega-3 rich pulses, greens and oil seeds.
What it claims Contains more polyunsaturated fat in the form of omega-3. Benefits include less risk of high blood pressure and the easing of arthritic pain.
Where to get it £1.39 for 6, from most supermarkets
The product For the British, drinking this is nearly as alien a concept as eating the beast's flesh. Somehow then, it's not surprising to find that our European chums have been enjoying a pint of old nag for decades.
What it claims Rich in vitamins A, B, C and K and minerals such as iron and calcium, the albumin-rich milk is easily digestible and low in fat. The recommended one litre's daily intake might not make you a favourite to win the 3.15 at Chepstow, but a spokesperson for Belgian horse farm Het Brabanderhof claims it can aid recovery following surgery and is good for problems with digestion, flatulence and nausea. As to the taste - imagine sipping weak Nesquik in a stable and you'll be about as close as you care to be to actually drinking the stuff.
Where to get it €95 (£65) for 588g of freeze-dried powdered milk from www.paardenmelk.be
Class T extra virgin olive oil
The product Tuscan Class T Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
What it claims Pressed in a unique oxygen-free environment to preserve the antioxidant properties. Numerous health benefits have been made for olive oil including helping to prevent cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and thrombosis. It's not clear if the pressing of Class T makes it any healthier than normal olive oil, but even so, it tastes great. Where to get it £20 for 100ml, from www.consortiafood.com
The product MiniCol - a healthy alternative to cheese, in which all buttermilk has been replaced by wheatgerm oil.
What it claims Plant sterols in the oil help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol through the gut. It's guilt-free dairy overweight people can eat.
Where to get it £1.98 for 195g, from supermarkets
Chocolate with shelled hemp
The product Imagine a chocolate that won't rot your teeth or make you fat and is nutritious as meat. Too good to be true? Well Plamil's Chocolate with Shelled Hemp is it - sort of. What it claims Dairy-free and sweetened with the tooth-friendly xylitol (a naturally occurring sugar-like substance obtained from birch trees), the chocolate has a low glycemic index which means it won't raise blood-sugar levels - the reaction which causes the body to lay down fat. Add the fact that hemp (a different strain from the stuff you can smoke and with none of its cousin's intoxicating properties) is a complete protein containing all the essential fatty acids and amino acids required in a healthy diet and you've got yourself a complete meal. Well, not quite. Nutritionist Yvonne Bishop Weston, who created the chocolate, warns that eating sweet foods will perpetuate a sweet tooth and that any chocolate should be eaten in moderation. A shame as the 60 per cent cocoa solids and mild nutty flavour of the hemp make this a treat.
Where to get it £1.35 for a 100g bar. Available from Holland & Barrett, Tesco nationwide, or at www.plamilfoods.co.uk
The product Made from the concentrate of Californian pomegranates, Pom Wonderful is the juice that wowed Hollywood. Mixed with vodka, grapefruit and lime to make a Pomtini, Pom Wonderful was the official drink of last year's Oscar ceremony.
What it claims Rich in antioxidants that can help slow and prevent the development of cancer, reduce the build up that leads to clogged arteries and reduce the chance of strokes. Although a number of studies appear to back up these assertions, a warning issued last year by the Food and Drug Administration in America to juice companies to stop making unproven claims for their products indicates that the jury is still out on the health-giving properties of the juice.
Where to get it £3.29, for 473ml bottle, from Budgens, Waitrose and Tesco and health-food shopsReuse content