Healthy Food Trends for 2017
It might seem like nutrition advice is always changing. One year headlines say eggs are bad for you; the next year they’re a good source of high-quality protein. The same pattern applies to everything from meat to wheat. In reality, though, solid nutrition advice rarely changes and everything is permissible in moderation.
The mainstays of a healthy diet: Opt for whole, unprocessed foods, especially disease-fighting fruits and vegetables; choose whole grains (instead of refined grains); and select lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products. The good news is that food purveyors and manufacturers – along with innovative chefs – are making it easier than ever to adopt healthy eating patterns.
Here are a few trending foods that you can pick up and easily add to your meal rotation:
- Bowl meals. From soups and smoothie bowls to the well-known Buddha bowl (a filling mix of greens, raw or roasted veggies and a healthy grain, such as quinoa or brown rice), these handy meals are portion-controlled and easy to tailor to your personal preferences. So whether you fancy vegetables, rice, noodles or burritos, the idea is to create a bowl that emphasizes taste and texture while also sporting a healthy mix of protein and carbohydrates. A bonus: Nutrient-rich ingredients such as acai berry, pomegranate, avocado and bok choy make a powerful statement in these meals.
- Alternative pastas. Pasta is making a comeback, but not in the traditional sense. Instead, chefs and manufacturers are coming up with more nutrient-dense options, including zucchini noodles (aka “zoodles”), quinoa-based spaghetti and rotelle made from beans and lentils (you can pick these up at Trader Joe’s, health food stores and even standard grocery store chains.) In fact, nearly any spiralized vegetable can make an appearance in noodle dishes. Another option is to choose spaghetti squash as your base since it has a natural noodle-like consistency and it’s packed with vitamin A. The nutritional bonus: These alternative pastas tend to be lower in calories and higher in protein and fiber than their conventional counterparts
- Alternative grains. Using lettuce or kale as a wrap in lieu of bread has been a popular trend for years. But now foodies are broadening their horizons by making sandwiches and even pizza crust with other vegetables. You’ll see eggplant used as a wrap for things like prosciutto and goat cheese, cauliflower used as a crust for pizza and even sweet potatoes, kale and parsnips baked into chips.
- Hot spices. There’s no room for bland dishes in today’s culinary space. Instead, chefs are incorporating spicy ingredients including turmeric, cumin, cayenne and crushed red pepper into their signature dishes. In nearly every case, these spices pack a hefty dose of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. There’s even research to suggest that spices like cayenne and crushed red pepper act as appetite suppressants and thus may play a role in weight management.
No matter what your food preferences, look at 2017 as an opportunity to branch out and try new things. Just keep in mind the common denominator in any healthful eating plan is variety and moderation. Your best bet: Incorporate a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables and a variety of flavors on your plate.
Bethany Thayer, MS, RDN, is director of the Henry Ford Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. She enjoys communicating with people about healthy living and eating and was a national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for 9 years. Beth is the president of the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which also named her as the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year in 2012.
Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.