2018 Food Trends You’ll Definitely Want to Try

Whole Foods knows a thing or two about food trends and—good news!—all 10 of the ones they predict will shape the way we eat next year are nutritionist-approved (with a few caveats).

Edible flavors

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Topping the list of Whole Foods' 2018 food trends is edible flowers to add flavor to salads, soups, and beverages with negligible added calories (petals are usually around 95 percent water). They can also help boost wellness—and you can easily grow many of them at home. However, it's important to note that not every edible flower is alike. "While some can be eaten in their entirety, others, like the rose must have their pistils and stamens removed before eating, do your research first," cautions Janine Whiteson, RD. "It's also important to be aware that if a person suffers from allergies, they should introduce edible flowers gradually as they may exacerbate allergies." Lastly, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! "Adding edible flowers to ice pops or marshmallows does not make these items health foods—avoid products with high amounts of sugar and no fiber, even if they have touches of lavender, hibiscus, or elderflower," cautions Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, founder of the F-Factor Diet. If you want to see what this trend is all about, she suggests opting for lavender lemonade tea bags with hibiscus taste. "You get the floral flavor without the added sugars."

Super powders

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Super powders can be good—or bad. "Some powders, like matcha green tea, are a great antioxidant and can really boost metabolism while adding virtually no calories," says Whiteson. Not all super powders, however, are a good choice; it's important to look at the nutrition label. How many calories are there? Are there lots of added sugars? Are there chemical fillers? "Powders can be filled with GMOs, preservatives, allergens like dairy, soy, and other synthetic toxins like aspartame, saccharin, and artificial flavors," cautions David Greuner, MD, head surgeon at NYC Surgical. For a safe bet, Zuckerbrot recommends adding Vital Protein Collagen Peptides to, well, just about anything. "I add it to smoothies, yogurts, and even coffee. Not only is this super powder versatile and filled with protein, it has added benefits for skin, hair, and nails. Two scoops of this super powder contains 70 calories and 18 grams of protein." Read on for more tips on finding the best protein for you.

Functional mushrooms

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Functional mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. "Research shows these functional mushrooms may even treat or prevent cancer and high cholesterol," says Zuckerbrot. Be careful though—opt for mushrooms in their natural state when possible. Rebbl Reishi Chocolate, for example, contains the medicinal properties of functional mushrooms as well as nine grams of fiber, but it also has 14 grams of sugar so it's not something you want to be drinking every day. A better option than a ready-to-eat or drink "treat" is homemade mushroom broth. "It's one of the healthiest things you can drink, especially when you use mushrooms with proven health benefits like reishi, cordceps, and lion's mane," says Edison de Mello, MD, PhD, and founder of the Akasha Center in Santa Monica and ActivatedYou

Middle Eastern foods

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Middle Eastern food is a favorite of health experts because it's known for keeping the body healthy and helping with cardiovascular problems. So what does it entail? "Think spices like harissa, cardamom, and za'atar and dishes like shakshuka, grilled halloumi, and lamb. Other trending Middle Eastern ingredients include pomegranate, eggplant, cucumber, parsley, mint, tahini, tomato jam, and dried fruits," explains Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, CLC of Maya Feller Nutrition. "Flavor, flavor, flavor... without the excess added sugars, salts, and fats!" Sounds similar? Middle Eastern foods offer many of the same benefits as the Mediterranean Diet.

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Getting to know your food

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All of the wellness experts interviewed highlighted this as their favorite trend. "Everyone deserves to know not only what they're eating, but where it came from, and how the ingredients were created/raised," says de Mello. "After all, being informed about what you're eating and making educated choices is key to living a long, healthy, nourished life and that starts with food companies being clear and transparent, every step of the way."

Plants take over

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Options are a good thing (like sushi-grade "not-tuna" made from tomatoes or a "bleeding" veggie burger!), but make your choices carefully. "There are some vegan "meat" and "diary" products that I think are great when natural, but often people see the word vegan and they think that means it's healthy – just because something is plant-based does not mean that it isn't processed," cautions Dr. Greuner. Stick with real plant based foods! Beyond Burger, for example, is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, which is great, but it's very high in both fat and sodium, so it's not something you'll want to eat every day.

Puffed and popped snacks

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It's never a good idea to eat mindlessly (here are some ways to stop), but with this trend you have to be especially conscientious. "It's not that crispy snacks are inherently bad for you, especially the new ones made of seaweed, cassava, or Brussels sprouts, but crunchy, salty snacks are addictive meaning it's easy to eat them mindlessly–and to eat way too much of them," cautions de Mello. Portion out your puffed and popped snacks! Compared with fresh, whole produce they're very low in nutritional value and almost always high in sodium, calories, and fat. When you do opt for one of these crunchy snacks, a rule of thumb, according to Vanessa Rissetto, RD, is to go for options with at least five grams of fiber and six grams of protein.

Tacos of every flavor

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Tortilla chips are still tortilla chips, even if they're whole grain. "They can really pack on calories that will add to your waistline," cautions Whiteson. "Seaweed tacos, for example, are definitely a better option but make sure to look at the way these shells are processed and look at the fat and salt content." The best option for a taco? Swap the shell and use a lettuce leaf to wrap your fiber and protein rich fillers.

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Root-to-stem

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This is a great trend because it's not only good for you, but good for the environment. "Some of the most nutrient-dense parts of fruits and vegetables, like the roots, stems, and skins are often thrown out," says de Mello. Dandelion and beet greens, for example, are flavorfully amazing and very nutritious according to Feller who also notes that carrot tops can be used to make an unexpected pesto. "Eating the whole plant exposes you to different textures, tastes as well as nutrients, plus there is less to toss out!" So forget juicing and souping, and just eat the whole thing!

Sparkling is here to stay

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Sparking water is a great alternative for soda, but not necessarily for water. "Two to three liters of water per day is the recommended amount to keep your body hydrated and skin clear. Unfortunately the carbonation in sparkling water often makes it more difficult to drink the full recommended amount," warns Zuckerbrot. When you do opt for a sparkling option, it's imperative that you read the nutrition label to make sure there are no added sugars, sodium, or artificial flavors. This is what happens to your body when you start drinking enough water.

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