Certainly, some food trends are healthier and easier on the pocketbook than others. We’ve reviewed opinions from grocers like Whole Foods, plus chefs, food-based media experts, and health professionals like dietitians to find out what nutrition and food trends to watch for in 2018.
Here we summarize the top 10 food trends we expect to see in 2018, as well as whether you should try them!
Watch Jennifer discuss the top 5 food trends on STL Moms, Fox 2 News.
1. Powder Play
It seems that every day, a new magical powder hits the market and promises to make you healthier, more energetic, and more beautiful. One example is collagen, which is made in the body but in smaller quantities as we age. Collagen has been reported to help reduce creaky joints and improve skin elasticity. It’s also been said to promote joint and gut health, reduce inflammation, and improve sleep quality.
Other popular powders include matcha, turmeric, greens, and adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha.
Should You Go For It? If you like them and are in good health, you could give them a try. But don’t expect miracles. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t assess supplements for safety or effectiveness, so there are no universal standards for supplement quality. Powders and other supplements can also be fairly expensive.
2. Love Your Mother
It seems the new year has many feeling more responsible. Sustainability is a huge trend this year, with an emphasis on products that are good for the consumer AND Mother Earth! Expect to see more sustainable packaging and some creative new ingredients, including edible insects and seaweed-based products (both of which place less burden on the environment than conventional farming). Grocers also expect to see a boost in organic and non-GMO products, as well as responsibly-produced seafood.
Should You Go For It?: If you can afford it, absolutely! We love responsible consumerism, but not being able to afford organic, for example, shouldn’t be a reason to not eat fruits and veggies. Other simple ways to jump on the green bandwagon include bringing your own shopping bags, skipping the produce bags when you can, and reducing meat consumption.
3. Veggies, Veggies, Veggies
Veggie lovers rejoice! You can expect to see more creative veggie products hit the markets. These items not only promote health by boosting veggie consumption, but also reduce food waste in come cases (for example, carrot top pesto and broccoli stem slaw).
Should You Go For It? Heck yeah!And feel free to get creative with veggies at home too. Use scraps for homemade stock, substitute homemade veggie noodles for pasta, try pickling your rinds…the sky’s the limit!
4. Beefed Up Plant Products
Jackfruit Tacos. Photo source: The Jackfruit CompanyGone are the days of dry, chewy veggie burgers. Plant-based products are tastier than ever and include an amazing array of ingredients, like beets and kelp. Jackfruit, for example, is becoming popular in vegetarian dishes meant to imitate pork (try it out at the Whole Foods taco bar, which offers jackfruit tacos and burritos!). Other creative offerings include veggie burgers that “bleed,” vegetarian crab cakes, and decadent vegan desserts.
Should You Go For It? Absolutely! We are big fans of this trend.
5. One-Click Convenience
Have you tried InstaCart? What about Blue Apron, Green Chef, or another meal kit delivery service? Consumers are turning more to technology innovations to make healthy eating more convenient.
Should You Go For It? Maybe. There’s a lot to be said for skipping the grocery lines, if personal shopping is in your budget and you’re willing to cede some control over your purchases. Meal kits can encourage you out of your comfort zone with flavors and cooking techniques, but it may require some experimentation to find the right one for you. This can be costly and time-consuming. Another time- and money-saving option is a meal planning service, like our free Nutritious Family Eats newsletter.
6. Flavors on Steroids
Not surprisingly, taste is the number one driver of American food purchases. The rise in social media-based food photography has left Americans rethinking their plain ol’ meat and potatoes. Expect to see lots of global spices and ingredients designed to help you step up your flavor game! Middle Eastern, African, and Mediterranean foods are especially hot.
Should You Go For It? You know it! In fact, this is a guiding principle behind Jennifer’s latest cookbook, Prevention Mediterranean Table (available at booksellers nationwide). At the store, try the spices cardamom, harissa, and za’atar, as well as falafel (chickpea patties) and halloumi (a cheese made in Cyprus).
7. Information Age
Consumers are becoming much more choosy about their foods. Strong preferences about GMOs, organic foods, animal welfare standards, and other factors are driving greater transparency in food packaging and labeling. This may mean foods with fewer ingredients and streamlined labels, or changes in food marketing.
Should You Go For It? More info is never bad. But be careful not to be sucked in by woo and fear-mongering. I recently saw a bottle of water that was labeled “gluten free,” for example. Educating yourself about what some of these labeling terms mean can help you to make informed decisions.
Nutrigenomics is the study of how diet affects genes, and vice versa. More people are getting trained in how to help people understand questions about how well they metabolize certain vitamins and minerals, based on their genetic profiles. More services are also popping up online, offering genetic testing and results interpretation.
Should You Go For It? Aside from common tests, like screenings for Celiac Disease, maybe wait it out a bit. The field of nutrigenomics is new and certainly very exciting, but still somewhat controversial. Testing and counseling can also be very expensive and often isn’t covered by insurance. If you want to try it out, do your homework to find a trained and qualified provider.
9. Sea Food
Marine plant products are booming, and for good reason. They’re easier on the environment because they don’t require land or fresh water to grow. And many are rich in nutrients, including protein, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamin A. Look for products with wakame, kombu, nori, and dulse in a wide variety of forms, including jerky and snack foods. At home, it’s also easy to substitute seaweed in the place of other greens.
Should You Go For It? You bet, if you like the taste! Reported benefits include healthier blood sugar levels and immune system boosts.
10. Healthier drinks
Many Americans would benefit from improving the nutritional quality of their drinks. Experts predict that consumers will seek out alcoholic drinks that are lower in sugar, calories, and alcohol content in 2018. On the nonalcoholic side, expect to see more veggie and fruit juice combos, as well as coffees with nutritional powders (see point 1).
Should You Go For It? Maybe. Keep in mind that most of these drinks will still add calories, and possibly sugars and other additives, to the diet. And as discussed in point 1, some of the additive powders may contain ingredients that haven’t been evaluated by the FDA (so don’t expect miracles).