December 22, 2017
Fermented foods— like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, some pickles, kimchi and miso—have ousted seeds as the number-one American superfood for 2018.
Consumers today are “going with their gut” by seeking out foods that improve digestive health and overall well-being, based on national survey results of Today’s Dietitian’s What’s Trending in Nutrition, released by Pollock Communications on December 21.
Now In its sixth year, the study surveyed 2,050 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) nationwide.
“RDNs stay ahead of the trends because they are dedicated to listening and responding to what consumers are looking for when making food choices,” says Mara Honicker, publisher of Today’s Dietitian. “Our readers stay current on what consumers are thinking as much as they do nutritional science.”
While widely known as the process used for making wine or beer, fermentation is a natural, metabolic process that involves using sugar to create compounds such as organic acids, alcohols and gases. Fermented foods may have powerful health benefits, from boosting gut health to blunting inflammation.
Following the top rankings (above), the other foods that are gaining traction at the checkout counter are:
- Ancient grains,
- Exotic fruits,
- Coconuts, and
In 2012, the same survey predicted that consumers would move toward “natural, less processed foods” (according to 72% of respondents). At that time, respondents predicted that consumers were trending toward “simple ingredients” and a greater focus on “plants.”
Move forward to today, and their projections have come to fruition as top diets for 2018—called “clean eating” and “plant-based diets.”
After “clean eating” and “plant-based diets,”, the “ketogenic diet”—which advises high-fat, adequate-protein, and low-carbohydrate consumption—has made its way to the top , at number three. This diet, which is designed to produce ketone bodies for energy, debuted with a high ranking.
Interestingly enough, back in 2013, RDNs believed that the trend in the “low-carb diet” had declined. Then a year later, there was a rise in Paleolithic, wheat belly and gluten-free diets. Now, RDNs rank “wheat belly” as one of the diets on its way out, and ketogenic has overtaken paleo.
“The movement toward clean eating reflects a change in how consumers view food,” says Jenna Bell, senior vice president of Pollock Communications. “Consumers are searching for nutrition information and equating diet with overall wellbeing.”
For example, the quick rise of fermented foods in the Top 10 superfood list shows that consumers have expanded their definition of wellness to include benefits like gut health.
Where do nutritional trends start? Pollack says that 29% are launched on TV talk shows or news shows; 24%, from social media; and 16%, by celebrities.
“It also suggests that consumers are digging deeper for information about the food they eat, and in this instance, finding out why yogurt, kefir or kimchi is so good for them,” adds Bell.
RDNs continue to recognize that consumers rank taste, cost, convenience and healthfulness as most important in the supermarket. And, the RDN messages remain consistent—MyPlate is said to be the gold standard for helping consumers eat right
The RDNs’ top recommendations for 2018 are to limit highly processed foods, increase fiber intake, keep a food journal and choose non-caloric beverages such as unsweetened tea or coffee.
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