It’s been an absolute pleasure writing for you guys in 2023 and I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my work as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it for you.
With that said, I’m excited to be once again gazing through my nutrition binoculars to look ahead to 2024 and offer forward some commentary on the trends the new year is expected to usher in.
And by nutrition binoculars, what I really mean is leveraging some exceptional market forecasting by the Whole Foods Market’s Trends Council recently released predictions.
I went through each of their ten selections closely and was quite happy with what I saw because I believe it bodes well for the health and flourishing of the general public.
For the sake of today’s piece, I’ve selected what I feel are the five most interesting and relevant industry trends to offer my thoughts and professional insights on.
Should these trends be on your radar and why?
Let’s find out!
Trend #1 – Purely Plant-Based
In order to cater to a market that is both increasingly interested in plant-based nutrition as well as the content of these products, it appears that plant-based product producers are going to move towards more product offerings that have simplified, shorter ingredient lists.
My belief is that this has the potential to be a sound trend that may increase consumer faith and confidence in plant-based meat alternatives.
I must also add that a short ingredient list does not automatically make a product better for you.
If you are looking for plant-based meat alternatives look for soy or pea protein to be one of the first 2-3 ingredients as these are the highest quality plant-protein sources.
Also know that ingredients are listed by quantity, so the first few ingredients on a product likely represent the majority of what it is made of – visualizing in this way might help you better determine what a product is all about.
My opinion on this trend is that it may be more about more about appearances than actual nutritional value, but that I’m generally okay with it because it aligns with consumer concerns in this space.
Trend #2 – The Cacao Comeback
Cacoa is a real nutritional powerhouse and it seems that in 2024 Whole Foods is predicting that cacoa is going to be appearing as a functional ingredient in a wider array of food products.
I’m all for this.
Cacao and dark chocolate generally fall into a very interesting category, because while they aren’t necessarily “essential” for health– they do indeed contain a number of uniquely beneficial compounds.
I personally regularly combined dark chocolate with nuts and fruit as an afternoon snack, and often suggest similar to my clients who enjoy those foods.
Dark chocolate and cacoa are, for example, one of relatively few foods that contains multiple compounds from the polyphenol and flavonoid families – both of which are known exert positive effects on multiple bodily systems including the gut microbiome.
Not only that, but dark chocolate is also a source of key nutrients like magnesium, calcium and potassium – which many people fall short of AND that help lower blood pressure, a common health concern.
We can’t go wrong with this trend, I’ve been a dark chocolate and cacao fan for a while.
Trend #3 – Buck Wild For Buckwheat
Buckwheat is a nutritious, low glycemic index starch and that is likely to increase in popularity and presence in the market in part due to the fact it is naturally gluten free.
Let’s be clear that being “gluten-free” does not automatically make a grain or product superior, but it does accommodate individuals who are not able to consume gluten.
If you’ve never seen or tried it before, it very much resembles brown rice visually but is also widely used in flour form in various products and baked goods.
One of the great joys of food and nutrition is the novelty and variety associated with trying new things.
If you’ve never tried them before, buckwheat and buckwheat flour absolutely represent a fun way to mix up your kitchen game, while also bringing to the table a very strong nutrition profile.
Any time a healthy source of carbohydrates garners attention, I’m happy simply because of the negativity that sometimes gets tied in with carbohydrate intake via social media and other avenues.
This is a cool trend that has me excited to work this grain into my rotation.
By the way, buckwheat is an exceptional source of both magnesium and fibre!!
Trend #4– Flipping the Fish Script
Statistically speaking, many people do not eat fish and if they do they don’t necessarily eat a large amount.
The problem is that fish is the ONLY dietary source of the important long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA & DHA.
If you want to learn more about why these compounds are so important and why you probably need an omega-3 supplement if you aren’t a big fish eater, read my post on the subject.
Even so, growing interest around plant-based food choices may change the way consumers look at fish in the year ahead.
Plant-based fish products, like vegan smoked salmon, have also entered the market and open more doors for vegans and vegetarians.
There are a few layers here.
Fish technically requires less land and water use than other conventional animal agriculture– which is something that certain consumers are paying more attention to.
To what extent plant-based fish products replicate these unique nutritional characteristics will be something to keep an eye on, and you’ll certainly want to make sure the product you use contains EPA & DHA if you are relying on it in place of a supplement or actual fish.
I’ve seen products in the USA which do contain these compounds and products in Canada that don’t, but I’m not yet an expert on this market space.
Trend #5– Spicing Things Up
It seems that there is growing interest around the culinary use of fresh and dried (spice blends) peppers from diverse global and cultural sources.
I’m all for this trend – especially because it encourages kitchen creativity and the exploration of cultural foods and ingredients.
The reality is that herb and spice blends and the foods from which they are sourced are very similar conceptually to products like cocoa and dark chocolate.
If you don’t like them you don’t need to use them heavily, but they absolutely offer what I’d consider “bonus health benefits”.
Herbs and spices tend to have significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so their utility goes well beyond flavour and aesthetics.
On a personal level, my kitchen game is as good as it’s been a while purely because I’ve dove into the spice world – I hope you’ll consider doing the same in 2024.
Ready To Make 2024 Your Healthiest Year Yet?
Whether you enjoy high level conversations on the nuances of nutrition science or are simply looking for path of least resistant dietary guidance to reach your health goals, I can help.
Reach out today via my contact form and let me know what your most pressing concerns are.
I’ll reply in kind with how I think working with me can help you address those concerns on your path to making 2024 the healthiest year yet.
Andy De Santis RD MPH