This past week, trend experts and buyers from Whole Foods announced their picks for 2018’s top food trends. With our own eyes ever on the future of food, we were interested to find out what they projected to be next year’s culinary fads. So we’ve picked four of their predictions to dissect and ultimately decide: Are they really worth the hype?

Super Powders

Whole Foods has listed Matcha as a top food trend of 2018

Munchery Matcha Latte

Matcha and turmeric have already shown up in our coffee (head to your nearest coffee shop and order the matcha latte or golden latte to give them a try!), but even more supplemental powders are popping up on shelves all the time. Collagen is one ingredient that has been gaining steam this year—it is said to improve skin health and appearance, joint and bone health, and digestion and gut health. Maca root, green combinations of spirulina, chlorella, broccoli, spinach, and tea leaves, and adaptogenic mushrooms (these happen to have a trend to themselves on Whole Foods’ list) are all being touted as the newest weapon in your health arsenal.

Is it worth the hype?
Adaptogenic mushrooms might be the future of food, but we think you should be wary of thinking that they will solve all your problems.

Adaptogenic mushrooms are on Whole Foods’ hotlist for 2018

Probably not. None of these powders should be used to replace an otherwise unhealthy diet—supplements will never compensate for the nutrients you get from a whole foods-based diet. They also shouldn’t be used as a way to treat or cure diseases, nor should they be treated as superfoods or miracle ingredients (despite many of their claims).

While research is inconclusive regarding the efficacy of most of these powders, they’re most likely safe. But because supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, however, look for an endorsement from a third-party like Consumer Labs, National Science Foundation, or USP, which indicates pureness and safety.

Transparency

Munchery takes special care to ensure that all of their labeling is as transparent as possible.

Munchery Za’atar Roasted Salmon

It’s no shocker that transparency, in terms of labeling, ingredient sourcing, and nutrition, is one of Whole Foods’ top trends. Whole Foods has already set goals to improve their own transparency, including labeling all GMO foods by September 2018 and providing calorie counts for all WF food bars. Whole Foods’ efforts are right on-trend, considering that—according to consumer research—94% of respondents want to know exactly what’s in their food and how it’s made, and 83% want access to more in-depth information. At Munchery, we’re already serving traceable, sustainably-sourced seafood and meat, and every single one of our dishes provides detailed nutritional information.

Is it worth the hype?

For the most part, yes. As a dietitian, I’m all for giving consumers more information about the food they’re eating, especially if it means that they’ll be making healthier choices. But beware the “health halo”—overestimating a food’s perceived healthfulness based off of a single claim. To use an example, words like “organic” or “fair trade” may convey a sense of healthfulness at first glance, but neither of these claims actually speak to the calories or grams of sugar in a food. Nevertheless, if these labels are important to you (and I think they should be) it’s great to have that information at hand.

Root-to-Stem

Try using all of your vegetables to reduce waste—you'll be rewarded with interesting textures and new flavors.

Root-to-Stem is a trend we believe in.

Nose-to-tail cooking—using the whole animal in an effort to reduce waste and increase sustainability—has been a top cooking trend for years. With the emergence of plant-based diets as their own trend, root-to-stem cooking is also gaining traction. Stems can be thrown into stocks, soups, and stews. Carrot tops and fennel fronds can be used as garnishes or added to salsas or pestos. Hearty leaves from beets and turnips can be repurposed in salads and side dishes.

Is it worth the hype?
Using the whole vegetable has a lot of benefits, making it one of Whole Foods' trends that we believe in.

Try using the skins of onions for a heart-healthy boost.

Definitely. In addition to reducing waste, using the whole plant can introduce new flavors and textures to your cooking, relieving you of your reliance on the salt shaker. Most of the parts of fruits and vegetables we normally throw away are packed with nutrients, as well. For example, broccoli leaves and stalks are packed with fiber, vitamin A, C, folate, and calcium. Onion skins, which you can add to vegetable or chicken stocks (just take them out before serving) are high in quercetin, a compound tied to heart health. With so many up-sides, this is a trend worth buying into.

High-Tech Goes Plant-Forward

Plant-based foods are much more sustainable and have a litany of health benefits.

Coconut milk is one of the many foods helping forward the vegan revolution.

As mentioned above, a focus on eating more plant-based foods is nothing new—#MeatlessMonday has been a trend for more than a decade. Today, you have many more options to go vegetarian or vegan without relying on tofu or soymilk. You can get alternative milks made from peas, macadamia nuts, or cashews; yogurt made from coconut milk or almond milk; vegan burgers that “bleed;” and even vegan “toona” made from pea protein.

Is it worth the hype?

Yes, in more ways than one. From a sustainability standpoint, opting for greener, environmentally friendly, and animal-free sources of protein is definitely laudable. And from a health standpoint, a plant-based diet (one that incorporates mostly whole foods—sugar, after all, comes from a plant!) can improve health in a number of ways, from weight to heart health to diabetes risk.

Kate Schlag

Posted by Kate Schlag

Kate Schlag, MPH, RD is the Nutritionist of Munchery. Kate Schlag is a Registered Dietitian and holds a Masters in Public Health with a concentration in nutrition from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. She completed her dietetic internship at Oregon Health & Science University and went on to begin her career as an outpatient dietitian at UCSF. Growing up in Boulder, Colorado shaped her preferences for healthy foods and fitness from an early age. As an athlete, she believes in fueling her body with healthy, wholesome foods to optimize her performance on the field and off. At Munchery, she works closely with the company’s culinary team to design healthy and balanced meals using fresh and whole ingredients, and is a resource of information about meals, ingredients, and general nutrition.

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