It seems food companies around the globe are using whatever marketing tactics possible; as consumer stroll down the aisles of supermarkets to find a product. What is it about consumer behavior that has food companies modifying, expanding, and diversifying their brands at such a fast rate? It is challenging to determine if a new health trend is just marketing hype or actually healthy.
Food experts have spotted 10 major food trends but some are not new, just older with a new spin; however,they are popular. See if these trends match what you have stored in your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator.
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* Foods for at-risk kids. Extra weight, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can affect pretty much anyone at any age, so food products are trimming fat, sugar, and food allergens while boosting calcium and whole grains. Fresh fruit and yogurt remain top snacks for younger kids. You will be seeing a lot of unusual herbs used in restaurant menus, such as papalo, lemon balm, chervil, and lovage, according to the National Restaurant Association. These green leafy herbs are botanically similar to cilantro, celery, parsley, and mint. With the use of herbs you can still have a tasty meal, while reducing or eliminating the salt you may add. Protein that comes from plants such as, lentils, tofu, flax seeds, and quinoa are on the increase; used in crackers, pastas, and veggie burgers.
* Smaller servings, limited calories. Low-calorie items and smaller portions are in demand. Small sizes may become popular at restaurants, too.
* Focus on phytochemicals, which are chemical compounds produced by plants, generally to help them thrive or thwart competitors, predators, or pathogens. It seems that some phytochemicals have been used as poisons, as well as, traditional medicine. These natural chemicals found in plant-based foods such as green tea, berries, and chocolate have healthy ingredients including antioxidants and flavonols.
* Foods with multiple health perks. People today want foods that multi-task for better health, such as items that are low in fat, cholesterol, and salt with a modest calorie count to help people watching their weight, or watching their heart health.
* Fat facts. The number of products touting “low,” “no,” or “reduced” trans fats has shot up in recent years. “Low in saturated fat,” “fat-free,” and “cholesterol-free” are other popular buzzwords on food packaging. It is also popular now to feature omega-3 fatty acids for heart health on food labels.
* Foods for older shoppers. Food marketers have an eye on the aging population, so expect to see foods aimed at common health concerns among elders, including osteoporosis, digestive problems, arthritis, and menopause. For example, some yogurts highlight probiotics (helpful bacteria) for digestion. Souping, a new trend of consuming a blended soup that is chilled as a drink. Souping is not like juicing which is usually high in sugar content and low in fiber. However, souping retains the vegetable nutrients and fiber, that is squeezed out of a juice. Soups can be healthy and satisfying. Edible flowers have become favorites, as in perennial plants such as geraniums, pansies, nasturtiums, and more that aren't just considered for your garden but your dinner table. It appears that suggestions of phytochemicals (plant compounds) might provide antioxidants that help in reducing inflammation, obesity, cancer, and give a boost to brain health. Not all flowers are edible and caution must be taken; since many plants are sprayed with pesticides, especially those purchased from green gardens, florists, or nurseries.
* Glycemic, gluten, and grains. The low-carb craze has become less extensive although still visible, but items that are low on the glycemic index (ranks foods on a scale from 1 to 100 based on their effect on blood-sugar levels) are still hot. Those foods don't cause dramatic spikes and crashes in blood sugar. “Gluten-free” fare is also catching on, with more people becoming aware of gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity. Glutens are a form of protein found in some grains.
* Natural solutions. Organic foods are the “in” thing these days. There has been a lot of concern about antibiotic resistance in humans. Buying meat and poultry raised on vegetarian feed with access to pastures and without hormones or antibiotics are simple strategies consumers can use to counter global antibiotic resistance.
* Performance boosters. Products are promising to boost energy and mental sharpness. Flavored bottled waters are projected to grow, with emphasis on purity bottled and seltzer water. In today's world, sugar is placed at the top of the chart to avoid in every diet. Sparkling water is considered an alternative to sugary sodas.
Varieties of functional mushrooms, such as cordyceps, lion's mane, reishi, and chaga, will be present in products such as, teas, coffees, smoothies, and bottled water. Mushrooms provide a mix of healthy nutrients and vitamins, such as niacin, copper, riboflavin, and selenium. The texture and savory flavor of mushrooms also make excellent substitutes for meat.
* Fun favorites. Healthier snacks are increasing with more fiber, less sodium, and fewer calories than traditional crisp snack foods. Snack foods such as crispy snap peas, Brussels sprout, chickpea puffs, and beet chips. There are veggie, nut, and legume based chips and puffs. Some companies have put a twist on traditional products. Many items aim to skim sugar, fat, and calories off sweets and desserts without sacrificing taste.
It seems the public is seeking more healthy foods and the food companies are providing them. If you want to add a little spicy aspect to your world, there are a number of unique ‘hot sauce' varieties on your grocery store aisles. There are milder types with hints of citrus and ginger to painfully ‘hot blends' made with extra spicy varietals, such as Carolina reaper and ghost pepper. With all the trends out there, it is likely that you fall into one or more of these categories. But are we falling for smart marketing ploys or are these products really delivering? Make sure you read your labels and separate the healthy from the hype.
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