5 healthy food trends in 2018

This year I have been trying to make more of a conscious effort to shop more ethically, or at the very least be more ethically aware. Making little swaps, like buying vegetables not wrapped in plastic, to slightly bigger swaps, using quorn or meat substitutes at home instead of meat. In addition we are trying to reduce waste, by using our compost bin more and grow some of our own vegetables. We have partnered with Suttons, online gardening retailers and advocates of grow your own vegetables, to look at some of the other trends in food and drink this year

Guilt-free alcohol

Alcohol often crops up now and then in our diets, for some more than others. However, we are becoming more health conscious and calorie counting doesn’t go well with a taste for liquor…
But, not to worry, guilt-free drinking is on its way. This new trend allows us to drink and be sociable without consuming extra calories. The low-calorie option amongst alcoholic drinks has been a rising segment for many years and will continue to grow as we increasingly monitor what we eat and drink.

It's already popping up here and there. You might have seen low-calorie beer on the shelves for example. Now, 78% of bars offer cocktails which is up 12% on 2016 — driven by social media and people’s willingness to post photos of their fancy drinks. Zach Sasser, a head bartender, predicts that ingredients such as beetroot juice, kale and pureed carrots will be popular. “Going into this health-conscious age that we live in, I believe integration is inevitable,” he says.

We might see healthier additions included in our cocktails too. In one survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 700 chefs were surveyed on what they think the latest culinary trends may be. They said that the relationship between the bar and the kitchen is to become stronger. Can we expect vegetable-infused cocktails in 2018?

Make room for more mushrooms

Scientists have discovered that mushrooms are better for us than we once thought, and it’s down to our ‘adaptogenic’ compounds. These compounds have anti-stress and anti-cancer properties. In fact, Food Navigator found that year-on-year sales of food products that include medicinal mushrooms have risen between an outstanding 200-800%, depending on the variety.

Experts are predicting that the mushroom market will be worth over £37 million in six years. Making its way into the food and drink sector through mushroom-infused coffees and mushroom smoothies, many cafes and retailers are already profiting from the trend.

The use of the mushroom is not limited to foodstuffs either. We can expect to see the ingredient on the labels of our hair and beauty products too. Different species of mushrooms are chosen for their varying properties — for example shiitake mushrooms are known for their richness in antioxidants and high vitamin D content, and the reishi mushroom is selected for its anti-inflammatory properties.

More non-meat eaters

More people are removing meat from their diet in a bid to help the environment. In fact, the number of vegans in the UK has risen by 350% in the past decade — predominantly driven by the younger market, with half of those opting for this diet falling between the ages of 15 and 34. At home we have been adopting a flexitarian diet — primarily vegetarian with meat and fish occasionally.

It’s possible that more plant-based ‘meats’ will be available to us. An example of this is an innovation called Beyond Meat. This could come in the form of burgers or fried food. Expect to see other indulgent food too, such as extravagant vegan desserts.

Smoothies and plant-based workout fuel 

Smoothies were big in 2017, you might’ve noticed an abundance of them on social media. Finely ground tea leaves, matcha and powdered super vegetables such as kale, spirulina and spinach have been popular too — their texture making it easy to add to soups, smoothies and salads. Registered dietician, Abbey Sharpe, explains their popularity: “I think people love a quick way to get in their healthy-eating fix, and powdered substances are seen as an easy way to pack in the nutrition.”

As part of the new craze, it’s likely that we’ll see more plant-based proteins. One of the newest forms of this is pea protein which has many benefits including its neutral taste — making it favourable for regular consumption.

Taking to the gardens

One prediction for this year’s food trends is more people growing their own produce. Brexit is already changing our views on food shopping. In April 2017, one in five said that they were more likely to buy British food after leaving the EU to support the economy. However, this was dependent on pricing, and if prices rise, many will go for cheaper alternatives.

In 2016, we witnessed first-hand the implications of relying on imports. Vegetable prices rose by 6.6% and this was explained by climate problems in Europe which led to shortages in some items. Can we risk facing these soaring prices again? Many think not. Instead, keen and amateur gardeners are heading to their back yards to plant their own vegetable plants and seeds and it’s expected that this trend will continue. 

What are your predictions for healthy food trends in 2018?

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