The message of healthier foods is hitting home. This year's Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) show in Las Vegas highlighted many ingredients, such as soy protein, lutein, fiber, whey protein, indigestible starch and vitamins, used in foods and beverages to increase health and wellness for health-obsessed Baby Boomers.

The flavors category also was robust, as these healthful ingredients cannot be added to foods and drinks without making sure the products still taste acceptable to consumers, a vital factor in generating repeat business. On display were flavors that tie into typically health-related items, such as pomegranate, black tea, green tea, berry, cranberry and several citrus flavors. As flavor technology improves, flavors are becoming more versatile, as they can be used in several forms in a wider range of applications.

Not surprisingly, ingredients tied into the low-carb trend made up a large part of those available at the show. Fibers that lower the number of ingested net carbs were popular, as were ingredients that increase the protein content of a food or beverage. Chromium picolinate and a new whey protein that can be used in nutrition bars for health-conscious sports enthusiasts also tied into weight control. In addition, ingredients that help lower total calories and fat continued to draw attention.

On the flip side, it is only a matter of time before interest in low-carb diets begins to subside. A survey by the research firm InsightExpress® (Stamford, Conn.) of 500 Americans revealed that less than 10% of Americans are on low-carb diets. The survey, conducted online, also showed that nearly 80% of Americans have abstained from low-carb diets and that, of those participants, fewer than one in five would purchase low-carb products. I asked show attendees what they thought of the low-carb downtrend, and many did not seem surprised.

Some cited consumers' disappointing experiences with low-carb foods, while others said consumers were unwilling to pay higher prices for low-carb items. Yet another attendee theorized that, instead of purchasing low-carb items, consumers simply avoided carb-laden foods.

The latest diet crazes certainly appeal to some, but common sense, good information and a will to be healthier are the better route.