The International Food Information Council (IFIC) completed a 2013 Food and Health Survey among Americans. America’s interest in healthy eating is increasing. Seeking healthy food items is driving 64% of our food choices. Good news indeed! Five food trends in 2014 are:
1. Protein is in the scientific news. The IFIC survey found that 63% of consumers look at protein content when they select food items. A protein source at each meal and snack helps to maintain energy and muscle strength especially after exercise and as we age. Lean meats and poultry, seafood, dairy products, and plant proteins such as beans and nuts are the best sources.
2. Omega-3 fats are not new but continue to be seen as important. More research indicates that we should choose food sources for this nutrient rather than supplements. While all seafood is a source of this nutrient, omega-3 rich fish are tuna, salmon, and sardines. Some plant sources are walnuts, ground or milled flaxseed, and chia seeds.
3. Sodium is finally hitting the mainstream with more Americans (69%) checking the sodium content before purchasing a processed food item. Many food companies are reducing the sodium in their processed food. Processed food is the main source of sodium in the global food market. It will be a slow process, but as people choose the lower sodium products, the food companies will continue this lower sodium trend.
4. Skimming added sugar is another important food trend. The IFIC survey reported that 58% of Americans are trying to limit or avoid sugar. Sugar is a source of empty calories. With weight management a goal of many Americans, limiting sugar-sweetened beverages, cakes, cookies, pies, donuts etc. is an easy way to slash sugar intake.
5. Ethnic expansion of food choices. Americans are becoming more adventurous with their food choices. Ethnic cuisine, such as Middle Eastern and Mediterranean are becoming popular. Walking through many local supermarkets, you will find whole grains (bulgur wheat, millet, quinoa), fruits and vegetables (jicama, pomegranate, papaya), and dips (hummus). Using spices instead of salt is another benefit of ethnic cuisine.