Americans are hungry for so-called functional foods, products that are enhanced with nutrients and perceived as offering health benefits.
A report released Thursday by the research firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers found that even in the current weak economy, consumers are willing to pay more for functional foods, also called nutraceuticals, the Associated Press reported.
These foods range from heart-friendly margarines and calcium-spiked juices to ice cream with probiotics.
Critics aren't impressed. These foods are "calorie distractors," said Marion Nestle, a food scientist at New York University.
"Functional foods are about marketing, not health," she told the AP. "They delude people into thinking that these things are healthy," and they often eat more than they should.