Like fashion or gadgets, food trends also come and go, with each new year bringing a host of ingredients that nutritionists consider to be on the rise. Factors such as the inherent nutrients, the ability to tackle dietary issues, the ease of availability, and versatility help diet experts figure out what ingredients are on the up when it comes to health food. On the basis of these, here are some ingredients that experts suggest would make the list for ‘superfoods’ of 2017.
Going (Green) Bananas
There’s a lot of talk about what kind of flour is healthier for you, and banana flour may just steal the limelight from the likes of coconut flour or other emerging varieties. It’s made from green bananas, which are essentially the raw version of the yellow banana, and has been used in Indian cuisine for many centuries. This variety is a good source of resistant starch that cannot be broken down by enzymes in your stomach and so acts like a fibre replacement.
That also means it’s there to protect you against colon cancer and diabetes, and helps manage controls blood-sugar levels. High potassium content means it’s great for your heart, with some exceptions for who can consume high potassium. Like with any new food, it’s best to consult your doctor about whether it’s safe for your particular condition.
Move over, Brown rice
For the past few years brown rice has become to the go-to ingredient for healthy rice-based dishes. With the hull and bran present on the brown rice, it delivers a more powerful impact than the refined and polished white rice, but black rice may be an even healthier choice.
Originating in China, where it’s called “forbidden rice,” due to it being an exclusive preserve for Chinese royalty, it has a high antioxidant content, which is crucial for anyone who is working out. A diet rich in antioxidants helps in exercise recovery by reducing muscular damage, eliminating or managing free radicals that can harm your body if built up in large quantities. 100g of black rice contains 8.5g of protein, 3.5g of iron, 4.9g of fibre, and the highest amount of antioxidants of any rice variety.
Bean me up!
In 2016, study after study lauded the benefits of beans, legumes and whole pulses. Every one of them claimed, regularly eating legumes has a lasting impact on weight loss and overall health. Studies found that those who eat just 3/4 cup of beans daily weigh 6.6 pounds less than those who don’t eat beans.
Another study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who eat one and a half servings of beans a day (3/4 cup) have lower blood pressure and smaller waist sizes. This is another ingredient that is a staple of Indian cuisines and will make a big splash in the health food market in 2017.
As cool as ice
Indians know it as tadgola, but the ice apple or palm fruit is so full of water, that it can make up for under-hydration at times. 100g of this fruit contains nearly 87g of water, so it also fills up your stomach and keeps off unhealthy cravings. In addition, it’s loaded with minerals like sodium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium, as well as traces of zinc and iron, to keep your salt and electrolyte balance in check, which is a boon for runners, who lose a lot of this through sweating.
The potassium content further helps in flushing out liver toxins, but could harm those with kidney ailments, so great precaution is advised if you plan to consume ice apple regularly. Besides, the fruit also contains small doses of Vitamins A, B and C and virtually no traces of fat, making it ideal for those on a diet.
Let it ferment
Fermented foods have been lauded for a few years now as the high probiotic content makes them a great option for those with digestive or stomach ailments. It explains the proliferation of kimchi everywhere. While fermented things are not everybody’s cup of tea they can be hugely beneficial from a health point of view. The thing in fashion now is kefir or búlgaros, a fermented milk drink where goat, cow or sheep milk is fermented with a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter known as kefir grains.
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that keep our digestive system well-oiled. Due to its low lactose content, it’s also good for those with intolerance to it. Like milk it packs high calcium and phosphorous, but the sharp taste might be off-putting for some. It’s best to mix it up with something like fruits in a blender to temper the mix. Kefir can also be used to bake sourdough bread, or as a buttermilk substitute in techniques like baking and curing.
These nutrient-packed foods can help fight disease, increase your metabolic rate, and make you feel more energetic. Eating them may reduce the risk of chronic disease, and prolong life, and people who eat more of them are healthier and thinner than those who don’t. But take basic precautions such as checking with your physician before changing up your diet, as that will help you make the most of these super-healthy ingredients.