Health food is a marketing term to suggest human health effects beyond a normal healthy diet required for human nutrition. Foods marketed as health foods may be part of one or more categories, such as natural foods, organic foods, whole foods, vegetarian foods or dietary supplements. These products may be sold in health food stores or in the health food or organic sections of grocery stores. While there is no precise definition for "health food", the United States Food and Drug Administration monitors and warns food manufacturers against labeling foods as having specific health effects when no evidence exists to support such statements.
1. Health claims
In the United States, health claims on nutrition facts labels are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration FDA, while advertising is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. Several other countries provide regulations on food labeling to address the quality of possible health foods, such as Canada and the European Food Safety Authority.
According to the FDA, "Health claims describe a relationship between a food, food component, or dietary supplement ingredient, and reducing risk of a disease or health-related condition".
In general, claims of health benefits for specific foodstuffs are not supported by scientific evidence and are not evaluated by national regulatory agencies. Additionally, research funded by manufacturers or marketers has been criticized to result in more favorable results than those from independently funded research.
While there is no precise definition for "health food", the FDA monitors and warns food manufacturers against labeling foods as having specific health effects when no evidence exists to support such statements, such as for one manufacturer in 2018.