The Hottest Healthy Food Trends

Find out what the health industry is buzzing about and whether or not you should work these trends into your diet.

Photo By: Marilyna / ThinkStock

Photo By: Supermimicry / ThinkStock

Photo By: Kelley Jordan Heneveld ©Kelley Jordan Photography

Photo By: Matt Armedariz ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Valentyn Volkov

Photo By: William Howell

©2013

Ancient Grains

Quinoa’s been hot for a while, but other ancient grains such as amaranth and buckwheat are starting to get a lot of attention. One of their most-common uses is in wheat-free pastas. Unless you specifically need to avoid gluten, pastas made from these grains aren’t necessarily healthier (they’re mixed with corn flour, so they have a similar amount of calories, carbs and fiber). And they're not enriched like standard white pastas, so they have fewer B vitamins (like folate). To benefit from ancient grains' nutritional value, try them in actual whole-grain form — cooked as a side dish in place of rice or potatoes.

Get the Recipe: Amaranth Pancakes

Seaweed

Step aside, kale: Seaweed is the new supergreen. OK, kale’s not going anywhere, but make room in your diet for versatile algae. There are many varieties: spindly hijiki, sheets of crispy nori and mild dulse flakes, to name a few. They add a briny sea flavor to food and deliver a lot of nutrition. Most seaweeds and sea vegetables give you a big helping of iodine, the mineral that helps keep your thyroid healthy, as well as a smattering of other vitamins and minerals. Folate and vitamin K are kelp’s standouts; spirulina is rich in B vitamins and copper.

Get the Recipe: Nori Crusted Salmon with a Soba Noodle Salad and Green Tea

Game and Other Nontraditional Meats

Move over, chicken and beef: Rabbit, pigeon, goat and other animals raised by smaller-scale producers are rising in popularity as protein options. These animals tend to have more-nutritious diets and get more exercise, which means their meat is much leaner. Rabbit, for one, is very lean, yet higher in protein and B vitamins (like B12 and niacin) and iron than beef. Want to get adventurous in your own kitchen? Try this Rabbit Sugo with Garlic Sausage and Homemade Ricotta.

Get the Recipe: Rabbit Sugo with Garlic Sausage and Homemade Ricotta

Fermented Foods

Kimchi, pickles and yogurt have been gaining popularity in the past few years and are showing no signs of slowing down. Fermenting foods allows them do develop probiotics, which give your body an immune boost and support gut health. As food is fermented, some of the nutrients are also predigested (for instance, some of the lactose in milk is broken down when it’s changed into yogurt, making it easier to digest). Try these recipes for Sauerkraut and Quick & Easy Pickles.

Get the Recipe: Quick and Easy Pickles

Egg Yolks

Eggs have undergone a PR overhaul in the past few years, and now egg yolks are stealing the show from the protein-rich whites. Egg yolks deliver the bulk of eggs’ nutritional benefits — they give you lutein and zeaxanthin (both good for eye health), vitamin D and protein. They also add rich flavor and creamy texture to scrambled eggs and sauces. And while one egg yolk delivers almost the total amount of cholesterol you should eat each day, health experts agree that averaging an intake of up to an egg a day is fine for your health.

Heirloom Beans

Heirloom beans, like Jacob’s cattle and scarlet runner beans, are hitting restaurant menus and farmers market stands. Many of these varieties possess rich flavor and firm texture, making them excellent stand-ins for meat in dishes. Beans are generally healthy superstars, thanks to whopping amounts of fiber, lean protein and folate. And their different hues indicate that heirloom beans have polyphenols — compounds that may lower your risk of cancer.

Watch the Video: Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans

Homemade Condiments

Chefs and home cooks alike are starting to make their own hot sauces and other condiments, in part in reaction to the additive-soaked ingredient lists on bottled commercial products. You can get amazing flavor — and control salt content — by using fresh ingredients.

 

Recipes to Try:

Fresno Pepper Hot Sauce

Home-Style Habanero Hot Sauce

Maple-Bourbon Ketchup

Dijon-Style Mustard

Alternative Milks

America has had a complicated relationship with cow’s milk for some time now. So it’s no surprise that nut and seed milks — like almond, hemp, cashew, coconut and hazelnut — continue to trend. These milks can be a good alternative, especially if you’re looking for a low-cal cereal topper or smoothie add-in. But watch out for two things: Sweetened varieties contain lot of added sugar, and they don’t really replace milk nutritionally. Cow’s milk is a good way to get protein, calcium, and vitamins A and D. Many nut and seed milks are low in protein and, unless they’re fortified, won’t deliver those vitamins and minerals.

Get the Recipe: Almond Milk