Matcha green tea
Diet trends cover everything from which foods we’re eating more and less of – to where we’re getting our food from and how we’re preparing it. Some recent trends promise a quick-fix – like the detox juice cleanse, and some offer indulgent fun – like the “no dinner, just a dessert-tasting, please.” These are examples of trends that might be dangerous over the long haul. Juice cleanses can lead to nutritional deficiencies (such as protein, calcium, iron), and too many desserts can increase both your waist size and your weight.
Fortunately, in the past couple of years we have witnessed a shift away from fast food and sugar-sweetened sodas (McDonald’s and PepsiCo have reported declining sales) and towards farm-fresh produce and “clean” eating (consuming food that is unprocessed or less processed with few additives.) There also has been an increase in interest in nuts, seeds, soy, gluten-free grains, dairy-free beverages (such as soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk) and vegetarian entrees. The low-carb, low-fat diet war has lost its intensity, and people are focusing more on “good” carbs and “good” fats.
Consistent with these trends, the newly released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020 advises Americans to choose plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthful oils and to limit their intakes of added sugars, saturated and trans fats, and sodium. Americans are advised to limit their intakes of both saturated fat and added sugars to less than 10 percent of total calories. Sodium intake should be no more than 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon of salt) a day. Unfortunately, according to a recent report by the CDC, more than 96 percent of men and more than 80 percent of women consume more than this amount of sodium. Make it a New Year’s resolution to keep your diet based on fresh, unprocessed foods and avoid eating too many restaurant meals, which can be high in calories, harmful fats, added sugars, and sodium.
Here is a look at six healthy diet trends for 2016. You might want to give one or two of them a try.
1.) Fresh meal delivery – companies such as HelloFresh and Blue Apron take the stress out of fixing healthful meals at home by delivering right to your doorstep kits filled with exactly what you need to prepare a tasty meal from fresh, unprocessed ingredients. As a bonus, there is much less food waste, and you don’t have to spend as much time shopping. Furthermore, meals are generally seasoned with herbs and spices instead of salt.
2.) Pulses – “Pulses” is an umbrella term for 12 crops, including dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils. The United Nations has declared 2016 to be the International Year of Pulses. Pulses are rich in protein and fiber and packed with antioxidants that can help deter diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
3.) Bitter vegetables – consumers like to try new flavors, and according to marker research from Mintel, this year more restaurants plan to offer vegetables with bitter flavors, such as Brussels sprouts and collard greens. Many bitter vegetables are in the cruciferous family of vegetables, and are loaded with cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
4.) The Mediterranean Diet – the Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, olive oil, herbs and spices, and even includes red wine in moderation. It is limited in red meat and sugars. Research continues to support the notion that this is a diet to choose for optimal health and disease prevention. According to the Mayo clinic, an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a lower incidence of both Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The analysis found that the diet cut the risk of developing breast cancer by two-thirds.
5.) Probiotics – gut health is expected to be a popular concern this year; there is a lot of research examining the gut-brain connection and the gut-weight connection. Research suggests that the healthy bacteria found in yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi might help regulate weight, boost immunity, and even improve mental health.
6.) Matcha (green tea powder) – in case you are looking for a new, healthful beverage, consider brewing a cup of matcha. It is a type of Japanese green tea, made from young leaves, which are steamed, unlike other green teas. (The steaming helps preserve the polyphenol catechins, powerful antioxidants that may protect against cancer.) Once the leaves have been steamed, their stems are removed and they are air-dried and ground into a fine powder. Matcha tea is made by dissolving the bright green powder into hot water. Traditionally, a bamboo whisk is used to properly blend the powder into the water, but a milk frother works well too. Matcha may enhance your ability to focus and improve your mood due to its combination of caffeine and L-theanine, an amino acid known for its ability to reduce anxiety. The result is a calm, focused energy.
Consider jumping on the bandwagon with one or more of these latest diet trends.