It has to pull its weight, nutritionally, providing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, and fibre. It would also be great if it could help prevent or cure diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or some other disease. In a nutshell, the hot trend in food in 2016 is towards functional foods, also called nutraceuticals. Here are six healthy foods that are hot right now.
Fermented Foods
Including sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, miso, kombucha, and pickles, fermented foods are getting their moment in the spotlight. All of these foods contain live bacteria that are good for your intestinal tract – so-called probiotics. Their job is to move food efficiently through your digestive system while helping to extract important nutrients. Eating foods containing probiotics can help restore the population of good bacteria in your intestines after taking antibiotics, and can help with a variety of health problems associated with IBS, IBD, and diarrhea.
This is the main spice in most curries, providing a bright yellow colour and a warm, slightly bitter taste. Turmeric contains curcumin, a chemical shown to decrease inflammation. In traditional Eastern medicine, turmeric is used to treat a huge range of conditions including bowel irritation, heartburn, depression, and high cholesterol. As inflammation in the body is generally not desirable and there don’t seem to be any downsides to taking turmeric in moderate doses, many people are making an effort to include more in their diet, from adding the powder to smoothies to eating more curry, to drinking turmeric teas.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of those miracle ingredients. You can use it for everything from cleaning your stovetop to exfoliating your feet, and there are multiple health-related uses for the fermented liquid. Apple cider vinegar is used to fight diabetes, lower cholesterol, heal sore throats, clear sinuses, and improve your digestion, among other things. Apple cider vinegar has been used as a cure-all for thousands of years and is enjoying a revival in 2016. Its various health benefits come primarily from vinegar’s acidity and the micronutrients from the apple juice fermented to make the vinegar.
Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and protein, and have a mild, pleasant taste. When soaked in a liquid they swell up and form a gel, making them a great egg replacement in vegan recipes. There are other egg replacements available like those used by food startup Hampton Creek, but chia seeds are the easiest to use for the home cook. One popular use of chia seeds is to prepare “puddings” out of them, soaking the seeds in milk flavoured with chocolate or fruit and then blending the whole thing together to create a thick, creamy dessert.
Green Smoothies
Green smoothies are hugely popular. They are essentially smoothies that include a large proportion of leafy green vegetables. Popular greens include the superfoods kale and spinach, romaine lettuce, and even Swiss chard. The greens are combined with fruits, nuts, seeds, and coconut water or milk to produce a beverage that can contain an entire day’s worth of servings of fruit and vegetables. A green smoothie provides fibre, antioxidants, tons of vitamins and minerals, and protein, depending on the recipe. If you’re interested in trying one, it is recommended you start with kale or spinach as your green, as they have the mildest taste.
Almond Milk
Non-dairy milks like soy milk, almond milk, and rice milk are popular among vegans, people who are lactose-intolerant, and those looking to reduce their calorie intake while still enjoying milk. Almond milk, in particular, is a favourite because of the mild taste. Almond milk has fewer calories per ounce than low-fat milk, no saturated fat, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. It is particularly high in calcium, iron, and potassium. It can be used as a direct substitution in almost any recipe calling for dairy milk, and is available at most grocery stores.
These are just a few examples of the ingredients and foods trending in mid-2016. The overall trend is towards food as medicine, meaning foods that can improve your health through high nutritional content or because they naturally contain a chemically active ingredient, like the curcumin found in turmeric. Fermented foods and plant-based animal product replacements are some of the trendiest foods on the market today.