As we enter the beginnings of February, there are trends starting to emerge in the health food community. Where previous years brought us gems such as kale, coconut oil and healthy fats (gotta love popcorn), this year foods both already known for their nutritional benefits and those that seem fairly new to the market are gaining in popularity –spices, chocolate, vegetables, and plant-based waters among them.
The spice Turmeric, which has gained popularity as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, is predicted to become one of the leading ingredients in cooking this year. With numerous health benefits beyond those previously stated, such as protecting the heart, soothing arthritis, and improving cognitive function, it is no surprise that health foodies are looking to this strange plant. One of the recently popularized uses of turmeric is in a beverage dubbed “golden milk”, “golden latte”, or “turmeric tea”. While this drink is not a tea per say, it is a mixture made from spices, milk (whether dairy, nut-based, or coconut) and sometime a sweetener. Sometimes you can add a pinch of black pepper which will increase the absorption of the turmeric, making it easier for your body to process.
Another health trend that made an appearance in 2016 and is becoming increasingly popular in 2017 is the “vegetable butcher”. These shops that have begun appearing in metropolitan areas across Canada have the incredible skill of substituting plants in place of meat. From coconut bacon to beet burgers, meatless meatballs and ribs, the almost-meat miracles will have vegetarians and carnivores alike clamouring for them.
Plant water is another such food that is swiftly gaining in popularity, specifically maple water and birch water. Birch water is a naturally sweet, syrupy type of beverage that contains vitamin C, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, sodium, zinc, and iron, and has a number of nutritional benefits. It can lower cholesterol, improve liver function, aid in weight loss, clear skin and brighten the complexion, relieve joint pain, and even reduce cavities. While nutritionist believed that birch water would hit its peak in 2015, it seems as though it will come back into focus during the year. Maple water is similar to birch water and is from the sap of the maple trees. It has several of the same health benefits and nutrients as birch water and contains polyphenols, plant-based compounds that can have a variety of health-promoting effects in the body.
Another recent development in health food science that is expected to take off this year should make almost everyone happy –chocolate for breakfast. A recent study by the University of Syracuse has shown that the consumption of dark chocolate improves cognitive functions such as focus, memory, and retention. Therefore, if you consume a little bit of chocolate in the mornings, your brain will function at a higher capacity throughout the day.