ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Many consumers rank olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids highly in health attributes, according to the United Soybean Board’s 16th annual nationwide survey about health and nutrition issues. The survey was introduced at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition.

When asked to list the healthiest oils, 89% of respondents put down olive oil. It was followed by flaxseed oil (72%), canola oil (70%) and soybean oil (69%). When asked what fats they view as very/somewhat healthy, 75% listed omega-3 fatty acids, which was up from 66% last year.

Only 9%, the same percentage as last year, listed trans fats as very/somewhat healthy. Saturated fats rose to 7% from 6%. Polyunsaturated fats came in at 29%, the same as last year, and monounsaturated fats rose to 32% from 29%.

The percentage of respondents that said soy products are healthy dipped to 84% this year from 85% last year, but that percentage is still up from 76% at the beginning of the decade. On an unaided basis, consumers mentioned the following specific health benefits of soy: 19% low in fat, 18% source of protein, 13% lowers cholesterol and 12% good for you.

The economy slightly may have affected the health and wellness market. When asked whether they were willing to pay more for healthy or healthier versions of foods, 54% of respondents said yes, which was down from 56% in 2008 and 60% in 2007. Eighty-eight per cent said they review the Nutrition Facts Panel when making food purchase decisions, down from 91% in 2008.

An independent research firm conducted the on-line self-administered study in January. It included 1,009 random surveys, providing a sample that is consistent with the U.S. population, and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.9% to 3.1%.