From trendy superfoods to the latest cooking techniques, chefs, foodies and health junkies are always searching for that next “it” thing. We asked nutrition experts to tell us about the foods that will likely be trending this year — some are becoming cult classics, others are completely new to the game.
1. ACTIVATED CHARCOAL
Appearing in everything from detox drinks to cosmetics, this jet black product has blown up on Instagram. “Medically, it’s used for acute intoxication from a drug or poisonous substance, because it binds to the toxin and prevents the body from absorbing it,” says Melissa Groves, RD, at Avocado Grove Nutrition & Wellness. But people who are using it for “detox” or using it as a trendy ingredient to turn their food black may not realize that it may be blocking the absorption of nutrients as well as toxins.”
Because activated charcoal interacts with medications and can decrease their effectiveness, Groves notes that, “if you’re going to use activated charcoal, it’s important to take it at least 2 hours before or after any other food, medication or supplement.”
Matcha, a type of green tea with bright green leaves ground into a fine powder and consumed whole, has been on-trend for the past few years. The whole-leaf provides more potent green tea compounds like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and caffeine. Because a serving of matcha can contain as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, be careful serving it to anyone who is sensitive to caffeine.
While it’s been consumed as a drink for the past several years, there’s been a more recent surge in using matcha in food since it adds a warm and savory element.
A fermented, slightly sweetened, bubbly tea drink that boasts an array of gut-healthy probiotic bacteria, kombucha has gone from the back of independent health food stores to front and center at convenience stores everywhere. Although the health benefits of kombucha sound promising, there are still very limited medical studies connecting health benefits to kombucha.
With respect to flavored varieties, watch out for high sugar content. And since kombucha contains a limited amount of alcohol (a byproduct of fermentation), beware if you’re pregnant or sensitive to alcohol.
4. TURMERIC TEA & LATTES
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice commonly used in Indian cuisine, known for bringing the unique flavor to curry. It’s surged in popularity in the past few years with studies indicating that curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory compound within, may help with arthritis, immunity and fighting cancer.
Found near the garlic in fresh root form in supermarkets, we expect the golden milk latte trend to continue into 2018 and beyond.Turmeric tea, made by adding turmeric to hot water with a splash of almond milk and honey, is an even more convenient way to get the benefits of this powerful spice.
READ MORE > GOLDEN MILK TURMERIC LATTE
A protein made of tiny building blocks called amino acids, collagen is found in bone broth and supplements. Collagen peptides come in a tasteless, odorless powder that’s mixed into anything from smoothies to hot liquids. Because it’s an amino acid, it’s high in protein: 2 scoops of unflavored collagen peptides contain 70 calories and 18g protein. But vegetarians beware: “Because collagen typically comes from cow or fish sources, it is not vegetarian or vegan friendly,” says Mandy Enright, RDN, creator of Nutrition Nuptials.
Before you start jumping on this trend, however, studies about the benefits of this nutrient are inconclusive. “More significant research is needed to back claims that it can promote gut health, reduce inflammation, reduce joint pain and create healthy hair, skin and nails,” says Enright.
6. PLANT-BASED DAIRY ALTERNATIVES
With more people choosing a plant-based and vegan lifestyle or looking for dairy-free options, there are more and more varieties of “milk” on the market as well as other offerings for cream cheese, yogurt and coffee creamer.
According to Enright, “many companies are getting more creative with their sources as there are even alternative dairies from non-nut sources, such as oats, for those with nut allergies.” Seattle-based dietitian Ginger Hultin adds that you should , “watch out for added sugars in products at the grocery store and instead opt for the unsweetened varieties. They’re great in recipes and can have a nice, creamy consistency.”
One of the newest “super powders” on the market is being touted as the “miracle tree.” The moringa tree is native to the sub-Himalayan areas of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Rich in vitamins A, C and E, the leaves and seeds are high in powerful antioxidants, including flavonoids, polyphenols and ascorbic acid.
“Some powders contain up to 40% the daily value of iron, which is extremely beneficial to vegetarian females and to female athletes, who tend to have lower iron levels and a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia,” says Kelly Jones, RD, a certified sports dietitian and co-founder of Fit Fueling: Mindful Eating for Active Females. Adhere to the suggested serving of 1/2–1 teaspoon a day by adding it to smoothies or tea.
More than a buzzword, the “mindfulness” mantra has become a way of life. This mind-body focus is beginning to shape our food culture and consumer attitudes around food choices. Mindful eaters want to enjoy eating, be nourished with whole foods, indulge in their vices, eat with others, cook homemade meals and know where their food comes from.
Eating is an experience in the mindfulness practice and may also help with managing a healthy and happy bodyweight. “In a culture where external cues like diets and the scale dictate our food decisions, mindfulness helps us to tap back into our body’s innate wisdom to determine what and how much to eat,” says Kara Lydon, RD, a certified intuitive eating counselor. “By grounding ourselves in the present and observing the physical sensations in our bodies, we can choose foods based on our hunger and fullness and what sounds satisfying in the moment.”