Some food trends stick, some are just a flash in the pan. Either way, it can be fun and interesting to see what all the fuss is about. Last month, we asked you which health foods you would try. Now, we break each one down—from least popular to most popular—and show you why these foods made the list. Some may be familiar, others a little shocking. Either way, these health foods are sure to pique your curiosity…and possibly your hunger.
Clearly the least popular choice among heath foods, these nighttime noisemakers may soon be chirping their way to your dinner plates! Eating bugs is common in many parts of the world, including Asia and Latin America, but it wasn’t until recently that it started gaining momentum in Western countries.
Benefits: Crickets are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, and low in fat. Another reason for the rise of crickets and other edible bugs is that farming them could greatly affect the environment. Crickets emit 100 times fewer greenhouse gases than cattle, and raising them requires significantly less water and less feed.
Uses: Some believe crickets in flour form have the most potential and could be incorporated into an assortment of foods. There are also a variety of products made from crickets, including cricket granola bars, cricket chips, cricket cookies, and even cricket dog treats.
A quick look at how vegetable fermentation works: vegetables are soaked in salt water or preferably their own juice. This allows for bacteria to grow and eat the vegetable’s sugars. As a result, they produce lactic acid, which has a sour, tart taste. Chefs like fermentation because it creates new dimensions to food, bringing out flavors and textures previously unattainable.
Benefits: The live bacteria or probiotics found in fermented foods are rich in enzymes, vitamins, and nutrients and help the digestive system run more smoothly. Eating fermented foods is similar to having an oil change for your stomach. Kimchi, a special kind of pickled cabbage that’s a staple in Korea cuisine, is packed with antioxidants, boosts your immunity, and helps lower cholesterol. Many Koreans credit kimchi for their long lives and statistically, Koreans boast one of the lowest cancer rates in the world. No wonder why this has joined the list of top health foods!
Uses: Popular examples include kraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso, and pickled vegetables. Fermented fruits and vegetables can be used as side dishes, in salads, and in smoothies.
Bone broth is a key element in the popular Paleo diet, which is based on the food humans’ ancient ancestors might likely have eaten. Dietitians who specialize in the Paleo diet assert that bone broth is different from stock because its made with roasted animal bones and simmered for a long time – anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. This long process breaks the bones down, releases nutrients and minerals, and produces gelatin from collagen-rich joints.
Benefits: The list of bone broth’s restorative properties runs long, but there are few scientific studies of the specific properties of bone broth. No studies have researched the broth specifically, though dozens support the benefits of its ingredients. The use of cartilage, gelatin, and other components found in homemade bone broth have been linked to prevent and sometimes even reverse osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, digestive distress, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer. Though bone broth soups may be resurfacing the West, they have been and remain a staple in many Asian cultures, where they are considered medicinal and prescribed in Chinese medicine.
Uses: You can drink bone broth plain or use it to make soup, stew, or gravy. It can also be used to sauté or roast vegetables. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to make and can be stored in the fridge or freezer.
Matcha Green Tea
Americans love their coffee. According to the National Coffee Association, 59 percent drink a cup of it every day! But has coffee met its match-a? Literally meaning “powdered tea”, matcha is made from tea leaves getting finely powdered, mixed with hot water, and whisked with a bamboo brush. Matcha was the “it” beverage at New York Fashion Week, and has many dedicated coffee lovers ditching their brew for this ancient cup o’ tea.
Benefits: Tea’s perceived health benefits are some of the reasons for its rise in fame among health foods. In terms of nutritional content, one cup of matcha is equal to 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea. It also has 137 times more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea. Antioxidants have been tied to protection against heart disease and cancer, as well as better blood sugar regulation, blood pressure reduction, and anti-aging. Compared to the jittery caffeine buzz you can get from coffee, matcha creates an “alert calm,” thanks to L-theanine. However, matcha quality is key – high-quality matcha is expensive, and a low price tag could be a red flag for a poor quality and less nutrient-rich product.
Uses: In addition to drinking matcha warm or cold, there is no shortage of creative uses for the powder: it can be whipped into lattes, sprinkled atop savory dishes, and mixed into an assortment of sweets, ranging from macaroons to muffins.
Avocados are America’s top-selling fruit. Yep, avocados are fruits. Sales of the creamy, versatile fruit have increased just about every year for the past 15 years. Last year, an estimated 4.25 billion avocados were consumed in the US, nearly double the amount consumed in 2005.
Benefits: Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which can lower bad cholesterol. They’re also packed with potassium, containing nearly two times as much potassium as a banana. Avocados are not only high in antioxidants themselves, but also help increase antioxidant absorption from other foods. Not to shabby for the most popular health food on our list.
Uses: Chefs love avocados for their taste, which is creamy enough to balance out acidity or spiciness but mild enough not to overpower other ingredients. Some of its countless uses include adding it to sandwiches and salads, eating it with plain toast, or making it into guacamole.
While some of these health foods may be just a trend, some others are here to stay. Give your body some love and add one of these foods to your diet today and see how you feel. You may be surprised at the results!