The Berkeley Wellness Letter has published its list of top 10 trendiest foods for 2019, based on surveys from hundreds of registered dietitians across the US. The top three are: fermented foods (including kimchi, yogurt, natto, miso and pickles), avocado and seeds.
Kale, salmon and green tea have disappeared from this year’s list, but the publication cautions that they are still highly nutritious and should not be discounted (they’re just no longer considered trendy). Surprisingly, avocado is still super trendy, at #2.
The publication offers some guidance on the relative merits of these foods from a nutrition perspective.
Berkeley Wellness’s top 10 trendy foods for 2019
Fermented foods–including pickles, yogurt, kimchi, natto and miso, may improve the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients and benefit gut health. Fermented foods also contain microorganisms that may help improve blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol, the immune system and brain health. However, some fermented foods are also high in sodium, which has been shown to elevate blood pressure, so the news is not all good, from a nutrition standpoint.
Avocado–High in folate, potassium, carotenoids, phytosterols, fibre and monounsaturated fat, avocado may actually lower blood cholesterol despite its high fat content. It may also help with weight management, due to a type of sugar that may block insulin production. (It’s also filling, leading you to consume fewer calories.)
Seeds–Seeds are a “reservoir of nutrients,” including vitamins, minerals, iron, healthy fats, fibre and phytochemicals. Flax, chia and hemp seeds in particular are high in omega-3’s, though be aware that seeds are also high in calories.
Ancient grains–So-called ancient grains such as amaranth, farro, freekeh, kamut, quinoa and teff are usually used in their whole state, unlike wheat, and are therefore higher in fibre and protein.
Exotic fruits–Acai and gooseberries (also known as goldenberries) are particularly trendy this year. (But though highly nutritious, they are also expensive.)
Blueberries–Not particularly exotic, the humble blueberry is rich in vitamin C, potassium, fibre and polyphenols, which may help to lower blood pressure.
Beets–Beets continue to be trendy, and for good reason: they are high in fibre, manganese, folate, antioxidants and nitrates. Beet juice may help lower blood pressure, are a proven (and completely legal) athletic performance-enhancer, and improve blood flow to the brain. (However beets also contain oxalates, and people who form oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid them.)
Nuts–Nuts may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease due to a combination of unsaturated fats, B vitamins, potassium, fibre and sterols. They may also help with weight control due to their high fat and protein content, which are filling, however they are also highly calorific (so just a few go a long way).
Coconut products–such as coconut water (low in calories and fat, but buy the no-added-sugar kind), coconut milk (high in calories, so use sparingly), coconut meat (high in saturated fat and calories, but also high in fibre), coconut sugar (to be avoided, since it’s no more nutritious than regular sugar), coconut oil (high in saturated fat, though some studies show it does not seem to raise blood cholesterol), and coconut flour.
Non-dairy milks–such as soy, rice, almond, oat, hemp, cashew, macadamia, pea and quinoa. Note that non-dairy milks lack the calcium found in cow’s milk, so look for brands with added calcium.