It may be freezing in some cities, but take a window shopping walk and the bright cobalt, orange, yellow and other spring-summer colors already are popping out at every store. Although, the same colors will soon show up at the supermarket your choices may not be so easy. What is new and exciting?
This is why every year thousands of buyers show up—this time in San Francisco—at the Winter Fancy Food Show to taste the most recent wholesome upscale foods products.
So don’t be surprised if your olive oil suddenly looks “old” compared to the latest fancy fruits and tomato seed and cherry seed oils. Studies show that when people have more food options, they find it hard to eat less and make the best diet decisions. However, other studies indicate that food boredom also may be detrimental to your healthy habits.
It is also known that people who read labels tend to eat less than those you do not. This means the more nutritionsavvy you are the better decisions you will make—no matter how overwhelming the options can be.
What do the experts feel are the new hot food items for 2013? Here is a look at the top three—and whether you should buy or keep on walking.
1. Ancient grains: Buy
The gluten-free boom may have brought some positive changes in the American diet. Consumers are more aware of other healthier grain choices than traditional rice, such as millet, amaranth, and quinoa (right). You can even find them in pasta, crackers, and bread.
There is no “hype” here. These ancient grains live up to their claims. They provide more protein, fiber, and minerals, such as magnesium, iron, and calcium than other grains. In fact, quinoa is among the few vegetables that have the same nine essential amino acids found in animal sources.
From these grains you also can expect improved health and greater appetite control. “For example, one little known added value of quinoa is choline,” says Pourtnoy. This vitamin, which is found predominantly in animal products, keeps the cell membrane healthy and helps synthesize the good cholesterol. While amaranth contains up to 30 percent more protein than wheat flour, rice and oats.”
This does not mean you still do not have to be careful when shopping. Keep in mind that these benefits can be lost when the grains become highly processed to make food products like crackers, chips, and bread. Read the label. It should say something along the lines of 100 percent X grain, X oil, and salt. The fewer ingredients the better.
2. Drinks enhanced: Pass
Supermarket shelves are already invaded with flavor-enhanced teas, waters and juices. But how about almond water? Or wild poppy juice? They might be “natural flavors” but the beverages can easily pack plenty of calories and sugars.
Although the term is endearing, no formal definition of the word “natural” has been issued by the FDA “The term is open to interpretation,” explains Shari Portnoy, MPH, and RD, CFT, www.FoodLabelNutrition.com . “Under current law, a food can be termed ‘natural’ even if the natural ingredients are derived using artificial ingredients.”
Bottom line: use your common sense. Apples and cilantro are natural, points out Portnoy, but this may not be true for apple juice or the new cilantro water.
3. Veggies and fruit oils: Buy
A tablespoon of oil—any kind—has around 120 calories. However, certain oils can make a difference in your waist and health.
“The healthiest oils are those highest in mono-saturated fats, lowest in saturated fat, and ones that contain omega-3 fatty acids that are converted into EPA and DHA,” says Sheah Rarback, RD, on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. “Evidence keeps growing that a high intake of EPA and DHA reduces the risk of inflammation, coronary disease, and improves memory.”
There are three new oils that may fit the health bill, says Erin Palinski, RD, CDE, author of the book Belly Fat Diet for Dummies:
- Pumpkin seed oil It has an healthy ratio of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. This oil is also rich in zeaxanthin—a carotenoid type—which research has linked with improved eye health and may decrease the risk of macular degeneration.
- Cherry seed oil Research reported in Phytotherapy Research found this oil can shield skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. It also has moisturizing properties and could be used topically.
- Tomato seed oil This oil is rich in lycopene, which has been shown to have heart health benefits like a decrease risk of stroke. When applied directly to the skin it may help to prevent skin inflammation, eczema, and decrease wrinkles.
- Parsley seed oil A recent study showed it had the lowest saturated fats and the highest antioxidant capacity.
Regardless of the oil you buy, opt for cold-pressed edible seed oils, which studies show involves neither heat nor chemicals, and may increase the retention of beneficial phytochemicals, according to a University of Maryland study.