Posted: Monday, January 27, 2020

Top Healthy Food Trends for 2020

Whether it’s clothing, slang or internet memes, each new year inevitably brings new trends. One area you may not expect to find trends, though, is food. Because food is food, right? It’s either healthy or not; cost-effective or not; tasty or not. But trendy? Believe it or not, the answer is “yes.” Quinoa, kale and coconut flour, for instance, all became big health food trends in recent years. So, now that we’re nearly a full month into 2020, what healthy foods can we expect to be trendy this year?

“From banana flour to monk fruit and watermelon seed butter, there are certain foods that are sure to be hot in 2020,” said Blount Memorial registered dietitian Angie Tillman. “Now, are they miracle food cures? Not necessarily. But, if you’re looking for tasty, newer-to-the-market, healthy food items that pack a nutritional punch and that you’ll definitely be hearing more about this year, start by taking a look at alternative flours. Along with seeing more recipes calling for almond flour and coconut flour, we’ll see some newer flours come to the market, as well. Two particularly interesting ones are green banana flour and cauliflower flour. Some potential benefits of these are that they are both gluten-free and more nutrient-dense. Almond flour is low in carbohydrate and high in protein, healthy fat and fiber. Coconut flour is low in carbohydrate and high in fiber. Green banana flour is moderate in carbohydrate, but high in resistant starch, which promotes fullness and supports healthy gut bacteria,” Tillman explained. “Cauliflower flour is moderate in carbohydrate, high in protein and low in fat,” she added.

Next, Tillman says, look for even more seed and nut butter options to appear on store shelves. “Peanut butter and almond butter have, of course, been popular for years, but this year, we are seeing more new options. Expect to hear more about everything from pecan, cashew and walnut butter to macadamia nut butter, pumpkin seed butter and even watermelon seed butter. These are all good sources of healthy fats, moderately good sources of protein and are low in carbohydrate,” Tillman said. “Another trend to look for this year will be the rise of more sugar alternatives. Beyond the common three artificial sweeteners – sucralose-yellow, aspartame-blue and saccharin-pink – we are seeing some newer-to-the-market alternatives such as monk fruit, a small, round fruit grown in Southern China that has traditionally been used as a digestive aid, but now is being used as a low-calorie sweetener. Because of its chemical structure, monk fruit is not absorbed in the digestive tract, so it does not contribute calories to the diet. They are considered GRA, or ‘generally recognized as safe,’ by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” Tillman explained. “Erythritol, too, is a sugar alcohol that is naturally derived from corn. It is also not absorbed in the digestive tract, meaning it contributes no calories or carbohydrate to the diet whatsoever,” she said. “These can be used in low-carb products but should still be used sparingly ideally,” she added.

“You also can expect the keto and ‘low-carb everything’ trends to continue and get more buzz in 2020,” Tillman continued. “The ketogenic diet is still everywhere, with an emphasis on lower carbohydrate and higher fat. Keto-friendly snacks such as lupini beans, pork rinds and cheese crisps are low-carb snacks to look for this year,” she said.

Finally, expect to hear the phrase “plant-based” even more this year. “You may have heard it a little here and there in 2019, but ‘plant-based’ will continue to garner a lot of buzz this year,” Tillman said. “We’ll see more meat products that have veggies and plants mixed in. For example, Applegate is a brand that now offers a turkey/mushroom-blend burger that touts 50 percent fewer calories and 70 percent less fat than a regular beef burger. One of these four-ounce turkey/mushroom burgers contains just 140 calories, eight grams of fat and 15 grams of protein,” she said. “The idea here is that these plant-based alternatives may not only be lower in fat and cholesterol overall, but also better for the environment – something that is still under debate,” she explained.

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