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1. Gluten-Free…everything: If 2010 was the year of organic, 2011 was the year of
gluten-free…everything! While this trend did not necessarily start in 2011, it
certainly grew exponentially over the past year, turning more and more people
over to the gluten-free side. Gluten-free labels have been springing up
everywhere from coffee (which is naturally gluten-free) to snack foods, bakeries
and even restaurants. So what is the deal with this latest health food trend?
Gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains, such as barley and rye, has
been blamed for a multitude of health “ailments” from headaches to weight gain.
With some people swearing by the gluten-free way, and others reporting no
differences, the jury is still out on this one. However, watch out as some
gluten free products are higher in calories and sugar, and lower in fiber, than
their gluten-containing counterparts.
3. Natural Sweeteners:
2. Vitamin D: When Vitamin E fell
from grace, a new micro-nutrient took its place, winning our favor as perhaps
the ultimate vitamin to fight off cancer, reduce heart-disease and may even help
people lose weight. While most people had some idea that Vitamin D was important
for the absorption and proper utilization of calcium, only recently have studies
indicated that this vitamin plays an even greater role in the body. Laboratory,
animal, and even some early human studies suggest that this vitamin may be
protective against some cancer, while other research indicates adequate levels
of Vitamin D may be important for decreasing the risk of high blood pressure.
Finally, and probably most importantly as we enter the height of cold and flu
season, a new study found people with the lowest levels of vitamin D, not C, in
their blood are the most likely to come down with a cold. So whether you are
soaking up the sun or getting it from a tiny pill or drop, make sure you are
getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D each day.
2011 was certainly a kind year to be a “natural” sugar. This past year, natural
sweeteners ranked as the second most-looked-for items on the ingredient label,
after fat/oil. Unfortunately, while some natural sweeteners such as honey offer
an array of health benefits, to the body sugar is sugar, no matter if it
contains the word natural or not. All sugars have the same effect on one’s blood
sugar levels, and can contribute to weight gain.4. Omega-3
: This “good”
fat has been on our radar for some time now. However, in 2011 Omega-3 took
center stage under the heath food spotlight. Overall knowledge and an
understanding of the importance that this fatty acid plays in the body was on
the rise, and so was the demand for omega-3 rich foods, such as cold-water fish,
nuts, flax and chia seeds. Moreover, this past year, an increasing number of
foods started popping up with Omega-3 being advertised on their packaging. Watch
out as more and more Omega-3 rich foods will find their way onto your local
grocery shelves this coming year.5. Black Rice:
While the 90’s were
known as the low fat decade, the first ten years of this millennium have been
heavily anti-carb. However one grain managed to slip onto the super-food list
this year – Black Rice. Once considered sacred among the Ancient Chinese, Black
Rice earned itself the nickname “forbidden rice” as only the Chinese Emperor was
allowed to eat it. So what makes this rice so special? Probably unknown to the
Ancient Chinese, Black Rice is abundant in anthocyanins. Responsible for giving
certain fruits, vegetables and grains a deep red, blue or purple stain,
anthocyanins act as a potent anti-oxidant, ridding the body of harmful free
radicals that can cause accelerated aging, cancer and heart disease. While many
fruits such as blueberries are revered for their high anthocyanin content, a
tablespoon of Black Rice yields more anti-oxidants than a similar amount of
blueberries, as well as has less sugar and more fiber.6. Truffle Oil:
2011, truffle oil was found everywhere from French fries, to fancy brunch eggs.
And who doesn’t love the delectable flavor of this underground mushroom that
both French and Italian chefs have adored decade after decade. Now most of us
would think that truffle oil has some relationship to real truffles?
Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, most forms of commercially
available truffle oil are made by adding chemical fragrance compounds to olive
oil.7. Coconut Water:
Once shunned as a health nut’s worst nightmare,
the coconut recovered some of its ruined reputation this past year. While
coconut and coconut milk became more popular among healthy eaters, it was
coconut water that really gained the most attention. One of the hottest health
trends in drinks, coconut water was spotted everywhere this year. Due to its
high electrolyte content, coconut water became acclaimed, and was advertised
this past year as a natural sports drink.
leafy green was undeniably the all-star veggie of 2011. Whether it was found raw
in a salad, sautéed with some chicken or tofu or tossed with pasta, kale took
menus across the world by storm. And why shouldn’t it? Between its enormously
high levels of Vitamin A, C and K, and not to mention the exorbitant amounts of
anti-oxidants and flavonoids, kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around.
Even Kale chips were a hot seller this year, as the organic stores were flooded
with this green “healthy” crisp. However, watch out though, as a chip is still a
chip, even if it is based on a nutrition superstar such as kale.9.
Sodium reduced foods
: This past year, sodium and sugar overshadowed trans-fats,
becoming the ultimate ingredients to be blacklisted by health organizations.
From reduced sodium soups, chips and even cheeses, to more and more “sugar free”
foods, these two ingredients have been slashed from an array of your favorite
food purchases.10. Healthy Kids Meals:
For the past few years many fast
food chains have introduced healthier options as standard. However this past
year, many of them started to offer healthy children meals in an effort to help
fight the childhood obesity epidemic.11. Pie:
Last but certainly not
least, we come to the top selling dessert of 2011 – pie! While 2010 was the year
of the cupcake, and a few years before it was the era of the fro-yo, this past
year was the time for pie. From sweet to savory, to supersized to pocket-sized,
pie replaced the cupcake as the most versatile dessert of the year.