Superfood trends for 2017Food trends change as quickly as fashion. With the rise and fall of health and ingredient trends over the years, these predictions for 2017 will help keep your finger on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to your next food shop. No one wants to make a food faux pas!
1. Plant-based dietsStep aside Paleo – in 2017 we will look to follow a new mantra: ‘Eat (whole) food. Not too much. Mostly plants’, with emphasis on the plants! These famous words, spoken by American academic Michael Pollan, have finally reached our shores, and are shaking up the high-protein low-carb world.
There are many compelling reasons for shifting towards a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, ranging from health to environment and sustainability. Unlike the relatively new Paleo diet, there are many long-term studies linking plant-based diets with better health. One in particular showed that vegans and vegetarians had a 50% reduced risk of diabetes compared with meat eaters. Pescatarians enjoyed a 30% reduced risk when compared with meat eaters.
Still not convinced? Well, have you heard about the ‘Blue Zones’? These are five communities from around the globe with the highest life expectancy, and guess what they all have in common? They follow a 95% plant-based diet.
If you can’t bear the thought of parting with a good eye fillet, the good news is, you can still protect your health by becoming ‘flexitarian’ – a part-time vegetarian. Focus this year on building your plant-based recipe repertoire. Think meals based on legumes, tofu, ancient grains, and of course, lots of veggies!
2. Eating local
The cracks in globalism are starting to show, and like the rest of the world, Australians will turn inwards this year and embrace locally-sourced produce.
Are you aware of all the benefits for shopping locally? From a social perspective, it can grow our economy, promote ethical trade and support our farmers. From an environmental perspective, it can discourage the greenhouse gas and fuel emissions associated with transporting foods from overseas.
Furthermore, shopping local may be better for your health and your enjoyment. This is because fruits and vegetables awaiting overseas transportation are usually picked before fully ripened, in order to prevent spoiling along the way. Removing the plants from their food source (i.e. soil) too early can negatively impact taste, aroma, colour and nutrient density.
If you would like to embrace this trend for 2017, start by visiting your local farmers markets, or ordering home-delivered fresh food boxes from local sellers. For the advanced local shopper looking to take the next step, community gardens are also trending this year. Schools and community centres are embracing veggie patches and inviting locals to participate, so check out what’s available in your area. Better yet, start your own in your back garden – now that’s as local as it gets!
3. Supergrains 2.0Quinoa has had its day, and consumers are looking for a new supergrain to stir through their salads and stir fries. Welcome amaranth and teff! These ancient grains come from different corners of the globe, are naturally gluten free, high in fibre and resistant starch, have a low GI, and are supercharged with nutrition.
Amaranth originated in the Americas, and was a staple food in local diets up until the Spanish inquisition. Teff, on the other hand, traces back to Ethiopia, and is in fact the smallest edible grain food, according to the Teff tribe.
Amaranth and teff, similarly to quinoa, boast a 15% protein ratio, which is over double the amount of protein found in white rice. Unlike wheat and rice, amaranth, teff and quinoa are considered ‘complete’ protein sources, containing all essential amino acids. However, both amaranth and teff top quinoa for micronutrient density, offering approximately 300% more calcium, and 50% more iron.
So how can you get these supergrains on your plate? Incorporate puffed amaranth in your homemade muesli mix, or cook the grain as porridge. Teff comes in dark and light varieties, which look great combined through salads. Teff flour can be used for baking, but make sure you follow a recipe, as it is a little different to standard wheat flour.
4. Fermented foods and probioticsAccording to the New Nutrition Business 2017 trends report, the digestive and gut health movement will continue to gain momentum in 2017. This will mean a rise in fermented and probiotic-enriched foods and supplements.
Why are probiotics so popular? They have the potential to restore and protect the balance of healthy gut bacteria, which we know is linked with reduced risk of many diseases – ranging from diabetes to irritable bowel syndrome, cancer and even depression (9).
Fermented foods are natural sources of probiotics and include yoghurt, cheese, kefir, kombucha, miso and pickled vegetables (i.e. kimchi and sauerkraut). During the fermentation of foods at room temperature, natural sugars are converted to lactic acid, facilitating the growth of multiple varieties of good bacteria.
These days, probiotics can be found added to powders and supplemental foods that are not natural sources, in order to boost marketability. However, the best way to get your fix is to stick to the wholefood fermented options, which offer nutritional benefits beyond gut health. Think calcium in yoghurt for bones, for example.
5. Turmeric and anti-inflammatoriesIf there was a prize for the new superfood of 2017, turmeric would surely come close!
Turmeric has been used for centuries in South East Asia as a natural healer. In recent years, studies have linked curcumin, the compound responsible for turmeric’s bright yellow colour, with anti-inflammatory benefits. And with chronic low-grade inflammation linked to numerous disease states, joint pain, stress and weight gain, it’s no wonder turmeric lattes, juices and capsules are popping up at every street corner.
The research into turmeric is still young, however, it seems that consuming it together with black pepper and healthy oils enhances absorption. Aim for a daily dose of 80-500mg of curcumin extract in capsule form, or 2-4g of turmeric root used in cooking or drinks. Golden milk is a favourite - create a paste with turmeric root, black pepper, ginger and a little olive oil. Mix the paste with milk and honey – delicious!
And while we are on the topic of anti-inflammatories, we must not forget fish oil. It may not be the new kid on the block, but it’s just as relevant! Opt for ethically-farmed salmon and oily fish over capsules, as the omega 3s work best in synergy with other nutrients in the fish.