To offer you a preview of the most important healthy trends of the new year, we chatted with nationally respected registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) throughout the United States to hear what health products and trends most stood out at this year’s Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, as well as what these RDNs see as hot at the grocery store and in their clients’ shopping carts.
“I think we’re finally moving away from [only] calories and numbers,” says Cynthia Sass, RD, MPH, who is in private practice in New York City and Los Angeles. “My clients want to know more about the functional benefits of foods, including how they impact digestive health, immunity, sleep, energy, and mental focus. More consumers are now connecting food choices with everyday quality-of-life outcomes, and labels that offer more information can help make that easier.”
Cut down on processed food. Processed foods are not good because (1) most nutritional value is lost in the making of these foods and (2) the added preservatives are bad for our health. Many processed foods contain a high amount of salt content, which leads to higher blood pressure and heart disease. Processed foods are anything that is not in its raw form. In general, most food in supermarkets are processed — the more ingredients it has on the label (especially the ones ending with ‘ite’ or ‘ate’), the more processed they are. Watch out for those with salt/sugar in the first 5 ingredients and go for unprocessed food as much as possible.
In a small Finnish study of 72 middle-aged people, eating just under a cup of mixed berries—including strawberries, red raspberries, bilberries (similar to blueberries), lingonberries and other native kinds—each day for eight weeks was associated with higher levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure. The diverse mix provided a wide range of polyphenols, plant compounds that may increase levels of nitric oxide, which in turn helps relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
One way to get a healthy active lifestyle is to start with a healthy diet. Try eliminating some of the unhealthiest foods from the diet, or making some substitutions. For instance, if you have a soda or two every day, that could be replaced with water. A regular snack of chips or cookies might be replaced with whole-grain fruit or nuts. Many people also choose to take a daily multivitamin to make up for any deficiencies in their diet.
An excellent source of vitamins C and A, plus potassium and fiber, tomatoes are also high in lycopene, which works with other vitamins and minerals to help prevent disease. A 2017 analysis of 25 studies found that people with the highest lycopene intake cut their risk of stroke by 26 percent and risk of heart disease by 14 percent. Cooking tomatoes brings out their lycopene, boosting the heart benefits even more.
Vegetables and legumes – raw or cooked vegetables can be used as a snack food or as a part of lunch and dinner. Salad vegetables can be used as a sandwich filling. Vegetable soup can make a healthy lunch. Stir-fries, vegetable patties and vegetable curries make nutritious evening meals. Try raw vegetables like carrot and celery sticks for a snack ‘on the run’.
The outcome of a healthy lifestyle can be seen in your energy levels, complexion, brightness of the eyes, shiny hair or just a general glow that surrounds you, like an aura. Once you see or feel these positive changes or receive the feedback that you’re looking great, this should encourage you to continue along your pathway to a better version of yourself.
Exercise – Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week – it can even be split up into 10 minute walks. The effects of brief physical exertion last much longer than those of caffeine, and exercise decreases stress rather than increasing it! Finding a physical activity that you really like to do will make exercise more fun and something to look forward to as well as help to keep you healthy throughout life. So try something new or something that has always appealed to you.
Eating two or more servings of fish a week is linked with a 30 percent lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, studies show. Fish—especially oily kinds like salmon and tuna—are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce levels of triglycerides that can cause heart problems. Omega-3s also help lower blood pressure and can help prevent irregular heart rhythms. Which fish is best? No common fish delivers more of the omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. Go for wild-caught Alaskan salmon if you can. Compared to most farmed salmon, it's generally lower in calories and pollutants and higher in omega-3s—and is better for the planet.