For authorisation of a health claim in Europe, applicants must follow the procedures in the legislation and in the guidelines for submission of a dossier, as well as the guidance in the European Food Safety Authority's opinions on the scientific requirements for health claims. In addition to the authorised functional benefits of the vitamins and minerals, certain foods and food constituents offer beneficial physiological effects that extend beyond traditionally accepted nutritional effects. The elucidation of these effects is becoming more important, as reflected by the increasing amount of nutrition research and number of product innovations. Provided that they are scientifically substantiated, health claims linked to food and food supplement products can help consumers make well-informed food choices. The present review focuses on scientific substantiation and consumer understanding of health claims, and it aims to help those involved in academic research, food product development and consumer education about food and health.