You’ve seen them on healthful store shelves. You’ve seen them being widely written about – online and off. You’ve seen them on restaurant menus. They seem to be popping up virtually everywhere, long before the Pokemon wave. Like Pokemon, these uber-healthy food trends are also making waves.
Let’s dive right in and unpack their benefits, before you check them out yourself, if you’re not already. So here we go, alphabetically.
Going beyond what cows produce, plant-based ‘milks’ are increasing popular. Picking an almond milk is highly recommended as it’s naturally high in calcium; and brands fortified with vitamin D, are comparable to cow’s milk.
Almond milk deliver fewer calories per cup than cow’s milk. Depending upon the brand, slightly less protein (2 to 9 grams versus 8 to 9 in cow’s milk). A cup of almond milk also has 2.5 to 4.5 g fat, 0 to 0.5 g saturated fat, 5 to 11 g carbohydrate, 0 to 4 g fiber, 20 to 30% of your daily recommendation for calcium, and up to 25% of your daily needs for vitamin D.
Amaranth is a boon for vegetarians because of its high iron and zinc contents. Both these nutrients as well as protein, are difficult to get in a vegetarian diet. Amaranth is also rich in calcium and magnesium, and is gluten-free. The grains have been cultivated in Central America for between 5,000 to 8,000 years.
It’s thick, porridge-like texture when cooked, makes it great in soups, stews, breakfast porridge or puddings.
Chia seeds provide as much protein as some nuts, heart-healthy alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and plant-based Omega-3 fat. Chia delivers 2 grams protein, 4 grams fiber and 1.75 grams ALA Per tablespoon. Chia seeds absorb liquid easily, their ‘gelling’ property makes a creamy addition to oats and pancakes; besides being easy on sensitive stomachs.
Coconut flour is a healthy way to add coconut flavor to baking. It packs 5 grams of fiber per 2 tablespoons (with only 2 grams of total and saturated fat) and is gluten-free. Its health benefits for people with diabetes include, lowers the glycemic index.
While hemp plants are illegal to grow in most countries because of the mood-altering properties, eating hemp seeds is becoming increasingly popular. Sales of these seeds grew 156% between 2008 and 2010. Being as versatile and similar in taste to sunflower seeds, hemp seeds can be eaten raw, toasted, sprinkled on yogurt or salads or ground into seed butter. Hemp seeds can deliver 16% of your daily value for phosphorus and magnesium, 1 gram of ALA and a little under 1 gram of fiber.
Kefir is a fermented dairy beverage, packed with beneficial probiotics that may help give your immune system a the extra edge. With 29% of your daily value of calcium per 8-ounce serving, kefir is a perfect addition/replacement to yogurt in smoothies; or even as a breakfast on-the-go. For extra flavour and natural sweetness, add fresh fruit or fruit puree.
Rooibos tea, a red-colored herbal tea made from the leaves of the rooibos bush, is said to protect your heart. Research indicates that people at risk of developing heart disease, significantly lowered their triglycerides and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, raised their ‘good’ HDL cholesterol by drinking 6 cups of the tea daily over six weeks.
Dulse, belongs to the family of nutrient-packed sea vegetables, is a good source of potassium, iron and iodine (great for the thyroid gland; usually found only in seafood or iodized salt). It’s salty, of-the-sea flavor, makes it enjoyable in many forms. You’ll find it either in flakes or in bags of dried strips, making for a great crumble over soups or salads.
This traditional yogurt of Iceland is comparable in texture and nutrition to Greek yogurt. It delivers just as much protein, and slightly fewer calories, because it’s always made with skim milk.
Adding vegetables, especially spinach and kale to fruit smoothies make for great green smoothies. Beets and sweet potato also seem to be making an appearance individually, in combination with fruit.