A common question I hear from Navitas field team members as well as our customers is, “Can you tell me more about the benefits that superfoods provide?”
This is, of course, a fair and reasonable question to ask. After all, our organic superfoods are 1) ‘super’ and 2) sold at a premium price compared to some conventional alternatives. Shouldn’t our products list all their outstanding nutritional and health benefits? Don’t we want to inform our customers that these foods have high nutritional value? Let’s revisit an important distinction made in A Guide to Navitas Organics' Updated Nutrition Facts: Part 1: we are proud to offer our superfood products as food rather than supplements. This means that we display a Nutrition Facts label on our packaging, and conform to FDA Nutrient Content and Health Claim Guidelines.
Navitas Organics superfoods have some remarkable properties with regards to nutrient density, nutrient complexity and rare nutrients. They are also associated with an extensive list of impressive health benefits. However, the FDA is very clear on what can and cannot be stated about food.
For instance, nutrients that are not included on a list that the FDA recognizes (declared as Daily Values or DV%) cannot be specified as having a particular function or benefit (i.e. antioxidants including flavanols, resveratrol, ellagic acid and catechins). The only antioxidants that can be identified as such include vitamins A, C and E, and there must be a minimum of 10% recommended DV% reflected on the Nutrition Facts label to include them (more on this later). Still, nothing can be stated about the benefits of these antioxidants – only that they are contained within the food. Supplements, on the other hand, can purport almost any benefit of both nutrients and compounded products. These claims should be substantiated by scientific research but are often not. Again, referring to part one of this blog, supplements are not reviewed by the FDA for safety or effectiveness.
FDA regulation on language used to state Nutrient Content Claims is very specific. Let’s review the example, “Hemp Seeds contain high amounts of omega fatty acids.” Other than declaring the presence of omegas, nothing can be said about their well-researched anti-inflammatory or brain health properties. We recognize that many of our customers want to better understand how nutrients might provide specific benefits, but it is simply not permitted by the FDA.
Furthermore, since omega fatty acids are not included on the list of the FDA’s recognized nutrients (DV%s), the term “high amounts” cannot be used. Omegas, flavanols, resveratrol and other similar nutrients can only be stated as a quantified fact, such as “contains 1200mg of Omega-3.” Otherwise, similar content claims made about FDA-recognized nutrients must meet certain criteria and use very specific language.
Take the claim, “Navitas Organics Goji Berries contain high amounts of Vitamin A,” for example.
A "good source" claim may be made when a food contains 10-19% of the RDI or DRV [both declared on the label as the % Daily Value (%DV)]. A "high" claim may be made when a food contains at least 20% of the DV. (Source: FDA.gov).
Our Goji Berries contain 140% DV; therefore, this claim satisfies the FDA “high amount” criteria.
In many ways, choosing to classify our superfoods as food (and following the FDA guidelines) limits how we’re able to talk about them. However, we strongly believe that it is the right decision. We both honor the foods and our customers by being honest, transparent and compliant, and by sticking to valid, substantiated claims that do not oversell the purported health benefits of our products.
Superfoods are food. We encourage our customers to explore and experiment with our superfoods, and to step away from the lure of bold health claims and intimidating nutrition jargon. We hope that our new packaging helps tell the story of these fascinating foods and inspires healthy living and positivity.