A new year means new beginnings. And new beginnings are the start of new trends including in the health food space. The health industry is constantly changing and evolving, which is fantastic because with each year comes new information; without change, the market remains stagnant and outdated. So what is 2019 going to bring in health food trends?
Let’s first take a quick look back at a few health food trends of 2018.
A Look Back at 2018 Trends
Mushroom powders: Mushroom powders became a favorite among health-conscious individuals for their medicinal properties in improving mood and overall wellness. Mushrooms like chaga, reishi, and lion’s mane were packaged into easy-to-consume powders that are convenient to stir into tea and lattes, as well as to add to recipes like raw energy balls. With the proven health benefits of mushrooms, it’s unlikely this trend is going anywhere anytime soon!
Matcha: Another trend in 2018 was the matcha obsession. Everyone was drinking this powdered green tea as a healthy alternative to coffee that still provides a small caffeine boost. Matcha is now common on menus at cafes—like any other regular coffee or tea. Not only is it loved for the energy boost, but matcha has been shown to provide benefits such as reducing the risk of liver disease, increasing antioxidant power, and helping with weight loss and weight maintenance.
Flower power: Edible flowers were seen all over plates in restaurants and to fancy up food photography on social media. Flowers such as lavender and hibiscus were at the forefront in flavored waters, teas, cocktails, and even baked goods. Lavender has been shown to provide therapeutic benefits of relaxation and hibiscus is helpful for lowering blood pressure.
Transparency: Transparency in food labeling became more popular in 2018. Genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling continues to grow in popularity, but in 2018 labeling was required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Labeling such as Fair Trade certifications, sustainability labels on seafood, and animal welfare labeling with meat also gained in popularity. Consumers are becoming more aware of what they’re putting in their bodies, and with the increase in food labeling, the ingredients in the foods you buy will be more transparent as the years go on.
2019 Health Food Trends
So what’s to come in 2019?
A new year is a fresh start for many, so it’s a better time than ever to introduce new food trends in the health and wellness industry. The following are the top predicted food trends for 2019.
1. Eco-Friendly Packaging
Food packaging made from compostable materials, recyclable straws, food wraps made from beeswax, and more—it’s all about the environment in 2019. Due to customer demand, some companies are working to make their packaging environmentally friendly—or at least, friendlier.
Some products are made from the get-go to replace products that aren’t environmentally friendly, such as Stasher bags that replace plastic sandwich bags. Or LunchSkins, which makes sandwich bags made from paper. Reusable everything is what the market is turning toward.
Stainless steel, glass, or silicone straws in replacement of plastic straws are helpful as some companies—and cities and even countries—have banned one-use plastic straws. And when it comes to produce bags, many individuals are now BYOB (bringing their own bag) to the grocery store to avoid all plastic bags when shopping. People bring their own reusable cups and mugs to coffee shops, and many shops sell their own reusable cups.
2. Plant-Based Goes Mainstream
Grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, and even fast-food chains are hopping on the trend of offering more plant-based options. This is good news for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, and is also helpful for omnivores who are trying to increase their intake of fiber-rich vegetables and legumes. Plant-based is what it sounds like—foods derived from plants such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and few-to-no animal products. Plant-based is more of a lifestyle than a diet because it has flexibility. The plant-based lifestyle isn’t a new trend, but the availability of plant-based options and the number of people consuming them are rising. And with new food products on the market—like jerky made from mushrooms and burgers made from pea protein—the options are ever-increasing.
Why are plant-based protein options becoming so popular? Studies have shown that eating a plant-based diet can be highly effective in reducing blood pressure, treating diabetes, and improving cholesterol levels. With the obesity epidemic in America and the rise of diseases like diabetes, many people are looking to food to help combat those issues rather than relying on pharmaceuticals. But people still want to feel like they are eating meat without the health implications of doing so. This is where meatless “meat” snacks come in. Fast-food and casual restaurants offer Beyond Burgers, meatless burger patties that can also be purchased in mainstream grocery stores.
However, although more plant-based options are great, be aware of the ingredients they contain. Many meatless options are made using seitan, which is gluten, and/or processed soy protein, which have their own health implications. As always, reading ingredient labels is key!
3. Hemp Everything
CBD, CBD, CBD. It’s all the rage. Hemp seeds aren’t new in the food industry, but CBD oil, also known as cannabidiol oil, is derived from a part of the marijuana plant that is non-psychoactive. It has made its way into health food conventions, farmers markets, and trade shows as a natural alternative for managing anxiety. Research has found that CBD may help to calm the central nervous system. It may also help with anorexia, pain, inflammation, epilepsy, and more.
CBD, although it’s prohibited in food by federal law, is sold in the form of oil that consumers can buy from companies such as Charlotte’s Web and NuLeaf Naturals. With many people looking for more natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals, it’s no wonder CBD is gaining popularity.
Consumers of CBD use it in recipes like hot chocolate as a way to relax at night, or in raw energy balls for a midday take-the-edge-off effect. Since it’s an oil, it can be easily added to almost any food or drink. The question at this point is, how long will it take for CBD to start showing up on grocery store shelves in your favorite food products?
4. Fats for the Win
It’s known that eating fat has its benefits, so this trend isn’t much of a surprise. And with the keto diet gaining popularity, there is even more focus is on healthy fats. The keto diet, also known as the ketogenic diet, is a low carbohydrate way of eating to force the body into ketosis, which means the body breaks down fatty acids for energy instead of glucose. This can help with weight loss and overall energy.
Companies and retailers are following consumer demand and are hopping on this keto diet trend. Fats like MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil and grass-fed ghee are used in common convenience foods. From coconut butter cups infused with MCT oil to popcorn with grass-fed ghee instead of oil, it’s easier than ever to increase your fat intake! But this is happening not only in packaged foods, people are also adding extra fats to their meals. Avocado with everything or consuming extra bacon, it seems that the low-fat diet trend is long gone.
But how much fat is too much? And are people compromising the quality of fats they’re eating just because of this new trend? There remains much to study and learn.
5. Gut Health Goes Viral
Probiotics, prebiotics, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha—everything related to digestive health and gut health is at the forefront of the healthy industry lately as the evidence of the importance of gut health is confirmed with further research. Your gut microbiome, where your body’s microorganisms related to the digestive system reside, depends on these natural organisms to ferment and metabolize what you eat.
It’s only natural that you’re going to see more products with added probiotics and companies promoting products like sauerkraut and kimchi. These foods help keep your gut healthy and your microbes in balance with more good microbes than bad.
Not only is gut health a trend for 2019, but shelf-stable probiotics are making their way into foods like granola, oatmeal, bars, and chips.
6. Collagen Power
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. Research has found that it can reduce the visible signs of aging. In a world where plastic surgery and fillers are common, individuals use collagen as a way to stay looking young. Active people and athletes consume it as a way to build muscle and for muscle recovery, although research has yet to back up these claims. Coffee shops and smoothie bars have it as an added option for beverages and some health professionals praise its potential additional health benefits such as relieving the symptoms of arthritis.
Many companies sell collagen powder for at-home use to add to any liquid—whether it’s a soup or smoothie. A leader in collagen products is Vital Proteins, which sells a variety of different collagen powders made from beef, chicken, and even marine sources.
7. Upgraded Snack Foods
Long gone are the days when the only potato chip option was a bag of Lay’s. Now there are potato chips that are organic and made with coconut oil and avocado oil instead of canola. Healthier snacks are more available. You don’t have to skip all the packaged products anymore because there are healthy options out there. As always, though, with any packaged food, ingredients are key. Reading the ingredients lists will never go out of style.
But in 2019 you are going to see more snack foods that have been upgraded with healthier ingredients and rich flavor. Everyone loves a good snack and if you can snack in a healthier way, it’s even better! Even the classic marshmallow has a healthier counterpart. Meet the Smashmallow, made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup and free of artificial ingredients and GMOs.
Any trend either fades quickly or lasts for years to come. Most of the trends for 2019 don’t seem to be passing fads. As new studies come out and discoveries are made, the industry changes. But eco-friendly packaging are consuming more plant-based foods are trends unlikely to change anytime soon! So what food trend are you going to hop on for 2019?
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.
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