A health food store is usually a place where you can buy healthy and organic food like fresh fruits and produce and whole grain products. There is a wider range of specialized foods than in a regular grocery store or supermarket. But while many people come for the food, health food stores often much, much more.
Most health food stores would also have a full stock of nutritional supplements that provide extra support for these types of diets as well an ensuring that vegetarians get the iron and other minerals that a person would normally get from meat and meat products. They would also carry a selection of vitamins, minerals, herbs, meal supplements, sports nutrition products, natural food supplements, and natural herbal remedies.
1. Organic and health food
Organic refers to the way that food is grown and harvested and usually involves a series of measures including not having and chemical fertilization or additives. There are national, regional and local definitions of organic food that varies from region to region. Health food is a term that has been used for the last hundred years to identify specific foods that are claimed to be especially beneficial to human health.
Underneath these broad umbrellas are other kinds of sub-topics like macrobiotics and whole foods like cereals and grains. These are foods that have a minimum of processing. Whole cereals have their fiber, germ and hull intact and are considered more nutritious while natural foods are simply foods that contain no artificial ingredients.
2. Nutritional supplements
Nutritional supplements that you will find at many health food stores include a variety of vitamins and minerals along with herbs, and meal supplement products. Nutritional supplements can be used for many purposes including being added to a person’s diet to boost their overall health and energy. They can also be used to help provide immune system support and reduce the risks of illness and to improve the performance in sports and athletic activities.
Nutritional supplements are big business. The market for these products in the United States alone is well over $20 billion dollars a year. The largest chunk of this market is in vitamins and herbal products.
Vitamins are a major part of health food stores and the supplemental health market. They are actually macronutrients which the body uses in small amounts. They are present in food, but not in adequate quantities to be useful for the body and most are reduced when food is overcooked, processed, or improperly stored. That’s what happens to whole wheat grain when it is milled and processed into white flour. That reduces the natural amounts of vitamins B and E, fiber, and minerals, including zinc and iron.
The human body still needs these minerals to support its basic biochemical functions. Without them, we would develop problems that can lead to illness and disease. Commercial vitamins come as either water-soluble or fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins dissolve quickly and need daily dosages. While fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fatty tissue and remain in the body longer.
Minerals, on the other hand are micronutrients that also occur naturally in many foods, especially meat and dairy products. They are required to help the cells in the body maintain their chemical balance. Minerals can either be bulk or trace minerals that are used by the body in different ways. Bulk minerals include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Trace minerals include iron, zinc, selenium, iodine, chromium, copper, manganese, and others.
There is some research now that suggests that the regularly occurring amount of minerals, particularly trace minerals, may be decreasing in foods as a result of soil depletion, unsustainable farming practices and soil erosion. Supplemental minerals that you find at the health food store are available in chelated form. That means that they are bonded to proteins in order to improve their absorption by the body.