Healthy Food Trends — Each New Year we distill eating right down several key thoughts that are easy to maintain to trim weight, feel better and keep your health in check.
Digestive wellness is propelled by new ingredients and backed by emerging science. The desire for consumers to feel benefits from food they eat creates a strong consumer demand for this category. Foods that can help reduce feelings of gas, bloating, or more severe gastrointestinal symptoms are the focus in this trend. This could include ‘free-from’ foods for consumers looking to avoid gluten, lactose, dairy, or FODMAPs (types of foods that are resistant to digestion). It also includes added-benefit ingredients like prebiotic fibers, probiotics, and fermented foods.
Eating more plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts have long been the hardest part of dietary recommendations for many of us to adhere to. The presence of this trend on the list signifies that food technology innovations have found ways to help plants make it into our diet in tasty, convenient ways. Products with plant protein and vegetable-based pasta are just a couple of examples of this trend’s power for stealth health.
Good Carbs, Bad Carbs
Carbohydrates have been the target of many diets in the past few decades as a strategy to reduce overall calorie intake. Many of these diets focus on shifting intake of “bad carbs” often referring to sugar or starches with minimal other nutritional value, to “good carbs” like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Fiber is often a key differentiator between a good carb and a bad carb. This trend ties strongly with plant-based, such as the example of using vegetables as a base for pasta instead of refined starch.
Power and Pleasure of Protein
With the pendulum swinging from “anti-fat” in the 70s and 80s to “anti-sugar,” consumers look to replace these nutrients with something positive. Protein continues to serve this need due to its association with improving lean body mass, reducing hunger between meals, and the ‘sportification’ trend (the concept of sports nutrition applied to traditional food for healthy snacks). People are looking for more protein in foods and beverages across categories, at increasing amounts. The key is to make sure the protein is from recognizable sources, whether it is animal or plant based. Animal jerky, cheese, and nuts are seeing their way into more and more product formats because they are familiar foods people trust.
Fat is back
One reason is that taste is always the priority in foods. With sugar reduction being such a focus, fat is a way to add back flavor. In addition, research is expanding the list of what fats are seen as healthy. Dairy fats are being added to the list of monounsaturated fats like olive oil and polyunsaturated fats like fish oil. In other words, this trend is catching up with the dietary recommendation that the type of fat is more important than the amount. It is key to remember that too much fat is still not a healthy thing — products should be formulated with the right amount of fat to keep calorie amounts in a healthy range, and the right fats should be used to promote health.
Health-e reporting with source: Nutrain Ingredients; Kerry Health Institute