With an endless supply of health trends coming out of the woodwork every year, it’s hard for your Average Joe to know what’s actually going to benefit their body. We can scrutinize fad diets and miracle foods all day, but separating fact from fiction seems like a job that’s only possible for professional nutritionists.
As someone who prioritizes health and wellness, I’m always fascinated with these health food trends and fads. Which ones actually have merit and which ones fall apart under closer examination?
While we could talk all day about which foods and fads you should run far, far away from, I want to share some health foods and health fads that are actually worth your time. Remember, though: everyone’s body is different. What works for one person may not work for another. It’s always best to consult your physician to determine your specific dietary needs.
Without further ado, let’s jump on in!
5 Health Trends that are Actually Worth the Hype
1) Sprouted Grains
What are sprouted grains, exactly? It means that the wheat has been germinated, which increases protein, folate, antioxidant, and vitamin C levels. This sprouted grain is incorporated into all of your usual favorite grain products like bread, chips, and crackers. Does it actually make a difference in your athletic performance as some claim? The jury is still out. However, eating sprouted grains does give you a proven boost in macros, vitamins, and minerals.
If you’re picking between sprouted and unsprouted grains, go for the sprouted variety.
2) Fermented Foods
In recent years, fermented foods have increased in popularity. Whether people are enjoying drinks like kombucha or imported treats like kimchi, many are stopping to ask whether or not these fermented foods have genuine health benefits or if they’re just the latest thing. They have the potential to greatly benefit your body because of one specific factor: the probiotics. Probiotics are linked to improved digestive health, immune system health, and even decreased muscle inflammation.
Of course, to get the full benefit of probiotics, you have to do more than drink a bottle of kombucha. Try incorporating probiotic intake across your diet through yogurts, kimchi and other fermented vegetables, drinks, and more. Also, beware—fermented drinks like kombucha often come with added sugars to make them more palatable for the everyday consumer. Make sure you’re drinking a variety that isn’t loaded with extra sugars if you want to reap the probiotic benefit. Always check labels for dietary information.
3) Plant-Based Diets
You don’t have to be a vegan or a vegetarian to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet. The idea of eating plant-rich diets not only includes a smaller environmental impact, but it involves eating seasonally and locally, focusing on fresh nutrient-rich produce and reducing your intake of meats and fats. Physically, one of the biggest advantages of shifting your nutritional balance to focus on plants and leafy greens is the positive impact on your cardiovascular health.
It can also reduce your chances of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The added fiber helps promote a healthy and regular digestive system, among a plethora of other nutritional benefits. Not all plant-rich diets have to be extreme—it’s often more about rebalancing the ratios of what’s on your plate.
4) Whole Foods
One trend that I’m certainly happy to see is whole foods. This is the idea of cooking with and eating foods that have not been processed or subject to alteration or additives. You go to the grocery store and you buy fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh cuts of meat. You focus on fresh ingredients to make meals versus buying pre-packaged and processed foods from the frozen aisle to get the job done.
While there’s a lot of nuance to the discussion in terms of food affordability, there’s no doubt that whole foods are the healthiest foods, and if you can buy and consume them, it’s the best thing you can be doing for your body.
5) Grass-Fed Foods
Grass-fed cows are healthier cows, and it helps you nutritionally when it’s time to chow down on a cheeseburger. Grass-fed beef is higher in omega-6 and omega-3 fats and boasts higher levels of vitamin E and beta-carotene. While I don’t eat meat anymore, grass-fed definitely provides the healthiest avenue if you're going to eat beef. The same can be said for the consumption of butter and dairy: the grass-fed varieties provide the same benefits.
You can receive some great nutritional benefits from each of these health trends. What we all must do, however, is pay attention to our individual health and nutritional needs. What I need and what my family needs isn’t going to be the same as what your family needs.
That said, each of these options provides health benefits that aren’t just hype!