5 food trends with impressive health benefits set to explode in 2024

This year we doubled down on hydration, drinking out of giant water bottles and even adding salt to the water. We’re also mixing cottage cheese into everything from ice cream to waffles, while looking for foods that can help calm anxiety.

What will happen in 2024? Let’s read the tea leaves.

1. Caffeine-free is the new wake-up call.

Every health newsletter I subscribe to reminds me that sleep means everything from better skin to enhanced memory and athletic performance to boosted immunity. For many young people who have opted out of cocktail culture, the next frontier is a decaffeinated or decaffeinated lifestyle, as caffeine, like alcohol, disrupts sleep for most people, especially when consumed in the afternoon .

According to a recent survey, an estimated 39% of coffee drinkers are actively seeking to reduce their caffeine intake. While decaffeinated coffee and tea have been around for decades, they may not be the tastiest beverages around. Historically, decaf coffee was removed from the caffeine through chemical extraction, but newer blends involve soaking unroasted coffee beans in a water solution for several hours, allowing the beans to open and extract the caffeine. The beans are then dried and roasted.

Look for stronger decaf options next year, like Figgee, a beer made with organic roasted figs.

2. Alternative proteins from unexpected sources

With peas, soy, rice, hemp and algae entering our food supply as alternative proteins, people are looking for more plant-based options.

The latest to enter the food supply is a protein called RuBisCo (called Rubi Protein), derived from a leafy green plant called duckweed, which requires 10 times less water than soybeans and 100 times less than beef but can be absorbed Five times more water. There is more carbon per acre than healthy forests. Plus, since duckweed grows in water, it takes up absolutely no land. It can also be used in baking or as a meat substitute and contains all nine essential amino acids.

Mushrooms aren’t an unexpected source of protein, but harnessing mushroom roots in a variety of ways is, and it’s the next frontier for fungi. Mushroom roots are meat-free, highly nutritious and don’t require the stabilizers used in many vegan products. The Meati brand sells mushroom root cubes, steaks, schnitzels and jerky, but expect to see it in applications such as deli meats, pork, gnocchi and even bread in the future. Similar products have been used as leather substitutes.

Don’t forget the seafood! Konscious sells a line of plant-based rolls, rice balls and poke bowls. Instead of tuna and salmon, the frozen treat uses konjac (a starchy, high-fiber root), pea husk fiber and lycopene from tomatoes (which gives it its red color) to create convincing dishes. Whole Foods is adding plant-based spicy tuna rolls to its sushi offerings, and Seed to Surf Market sells canned snow crab made with enoki mushrooms.

3. Eat snacks to stabilize blood sugar

About one-third of Americans, or 89 million people, have prediabetes, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Snacks made from low-glycemic ingredients like almonds, pecans, cheese, avocados, eggs, and unsweetened Greek yogurt seem to be everywhere these days.

Good Measure makes bars and chips that combine almonds with other low-glycemic ingredients like soy protein, pumpkin seeds, and cheddar cheese for 5 grams or less of net carbs. Sweden-based Good Idea produces a drink that can lower blood sugar when consumed with meals. One study of overweight but otherwise healthy people found that drinking the drink during a high-carbohydrate diet helped lower blood sugar by 25 percent.

As with any supplement, check with your doctor before adding such products to your daily routine.

4. Better gluten-free snacks

If you’re one of the nearly one-third of Americans who follow a gluten-free diet, you know that many of the snack foods you find in the gluten-free aisle are low in fiber and often contain sweeteners. But that’s about to change, thanks to a small seed called buckwheat that, contrary to its name, is naturally gluten-free.

Buckwheat has a variety of health benefits. For example, it contains all nine essential amino acids, which can help you feel fuller for longer, and contains magnesium, manganese, zinc and B-complex vitamins, which all play a role in immune system function. If you love eating soba noodles, you’ve already tried soba.

Buckwheat is not new, but it has yet to enter the mainstream food system on a large scale. In the coming year, you can look for buckwheat crackers, cookies, waffle mix, and even a milk called BAM. It can be cooked like other whole grains in a pot on the stove or in a slow cooker. Once cooked, buckwheat can be used in soups, grain bowls, and chili, or as a breakfast cereal.

5. Alkali treatment

When you enjoy chips and guacamole, you’re chewing on the results of nixtamalization, or the process of cooking and soaking dried corn kernels in a solution of water and lime (calcium hydroxide). The corn is then drained and rinsed, removing the outer husks, and ground into a dough that can be used to make chips, tortillas, and tamales.

Nixtamalization, long used in Mexico and Central America, changes the nutritional profile of corn foods, adding vitamin B3 and iron, increasing calcium content and increasing the content of resistant starch. But you don’t need to know the whole process at all to enjoy the crispy and delicious tortillas made by Siete, Tia Lupita and Vista Hermosa using this traditional technique.

No matter which trend you decide to try, I hope your 2024 is off to a healthy and delicious start!

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