Food trends are always a gamble; for every newly discovered nutritional powerhouse, there are ten trends that are a waste of money at best and a health hazard at worst.
These 9 trends rise above the hype. Whether they’re chock-full of nutrients and protein, particularly sustainable, or an allergy-friendly alternative to a more common food, these trends are every bit as good as they’re cracked up to be.
Yes, you read that right – crickets. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has hailed edible insects as the food source of the future. In fact, 3.5 ounces of cricket contains anywhere from eight to 25 grams of protein.
That’s admittedly not as much as the 19 to 26 grams in a comparable amount of beef. The difference? Crickets are twice as efficient at synthesizing food, which means they don’t need as much food or pasture, and they produce less ammonia and fewer greenhouse gases. An excellent source of vitamin B12, crickets also provide vital amino acids.
There’s certainly an “ick” factor to the idea of eating crickets, but don’t worry – no one expects you to fry them up and eat them whole. Right now, cricket flour is being used as a high-protein ingredient in foods such as energy bars, cereals, and cookies. Just chow down and try not to think too hard about what it looked like before it was roasted and milled.
2. Bone Broth
Make no mistake: there is a lot of unconfirmed hype about bone broth, the slow-simmered, extra-hearty stock that was brought into the limelight by the paleo diet. According to health experts, there’s no evidence that bone broth will have any effect on your hair, skin, and bones. However, because the meat and bones in bone broth are simmered longer than those in regular stock, the proteins and nutrients break down further and saturate the broth, causing it to pack a more powerful protein punch. Essentially, bone broth gives you plenty of the benefits of eating meat with little of the fat, calories and other drawbacks.
3. Dandelion Greens
You may not want them in your garden, but you should certainly want them on your dinner plate. Like other green leafy vegetables, dandelion greens are nutritional powerhouses. Two ounces of dandelion greens give you more than five times your daily requirement of vitamin K, as well as taking care of all your vitamin A needs for the day.
The greens are an excellent source of calcium, vitamin C, fiber, iron, and manganese as well.
Kamut just might be the new quinoa. A serving provides nearly a quarter of your daily value of protein, making it an excellent nutritional source for vegans, and it’s also a solid source of niacin and thiamin.
However, the value of kamut goes beyond its nutritional profile. A 2013 study compared a group that ate grain products baked from kamut flour to a group that ate grain products baked with whole-wheat flour and found that the kamut group had lower levels of cholesterol and fewer markers for inflammation.
Kamut is also gluten-free, which makes it good for people who want to decrease the amount of gluten in their diets.
If you want to vary your gluten-free grain alternatives even more, throw in some sorghum with your kamut. A serving of sorghum takes care of half your daily requirement of dietary fiber, iron, protein, and phosphorus, and is also chock-full of potassium and niacin.
It has more fat than kamut, but most of those are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. What’s more, a 2008 study showed that sorghum bran reduces the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes, and a 2009 study indicated that sorghum extracts can decrease the growth rate of cancer cells.
6. Chia Seeds
If you like getting your omega-3s from flax seeds, but you don’t like grinding them up, chia seeds are here to save the day. Unlike flax seeds, the outsides of chia seeds are easily digestible, so you can eat them whole without losing any of the nutritional benefits.
A single ounce of chia seeds knock out 42% of your daily requirement of fiber and have more omega-3 fatty acids than a serving of salmon. Chia seeds are also an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, manganese, and protein. A 2007 study also showed that chia seeds can decrease inflammation and blood pressure in patients with diabetes.
You’ve almost certainly heard about the phenomenal benefits of green tea, namely that it’s extraordinarily high in antioxidants, which scavenge the free radicals that degrade your DNA and cause the negative effects of aging.
This means that green tea reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, and cancer; lowers your bad cholesterol levels while raising the good cholesterol levels; and may reduce inflammation, arthritis, and your risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Matcha has all the benefits of green tea, but it may also have a few extra ones.
That’s because matcha is made from tea leaves that are powdered and mixed directly into the water rather than steeped and discarded like regular tea. Not only are you consuming the tea leaves themselves, but the quality of the leaves is higher so that the tea will still taste good.
Some of the health claims connected to matcha are unproven; for instance, matcha enthusiasts may tell you that it has more of every antioxidant and nutrient than regular green tea, which hasn’t been verified.
However, one known fact is that matcha contains much more of an antioxidant called EGCG , which is linked to lower rates of kidney and liver damage, lower blood sugar levels, and decreased levels of cholesterol. Other studies have even suggested that EGCG has antiviral properties.
Ghee, or clarified butter, has long had a bad reputation because of its high saturated fat content. However, because the clarifying process removes milk proteins and lactose, it’s a terrific option for those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk. It tastes exactly like butter because it’s made from butter.
Ghee is also extremely high in butyrate, a fatty acid that can decrease insulin resistance, improve digestion, and even decrease your risk of colorectal cancer.
9. Cashew Milk
If you’re lactose intolerant, allergic to milk, or vegan, you’ve probably tried rice, almond and soy milk already, but have you added cashew milk to the repertoire?
Unsweetened cashew milk has a rich taste that’s creamier than most skim or low-fat milks, but only has two grams of fat and 25 calories per cup. It has no naturally occurring sugars and provides half your daily requirement of vitamin E, which nourishes your skin.
Be aware that it’s much lower in protein than cow’s milk, so you may want to pair it with some kamut or crickets.