The new year (and new decade!) means a new mindset, with a renewed dedication to fitness and healthy eating goals. It also comes with exciting upcoming nutrition trends and food adventures to try. We chatted with experts to see why certain health food concepts are gaining steam in 2020. If you’re open to trying some of the below, it just might be the year you become obsessed with jackfruit, coconut milk yogurt, or macadamia nut butter. Let the new year healthy food experimentation start now!
Related: How to Eat Real Food
2020's Best Nutrition Trends to Come
1. Clean refrigerated packaged snacks
When grocery shopping, many consumers will be skipping the snack aisle altogether and going straight for the refrigerated section. “Gone are the days when the only options were granola bars and mini pretzel bags—the keyword is ‘fresh’ in this new generation of grabbing and going, according to Whole Foods’ prediction of the top 2020 food trends. You’ll start seeing chilled nutrition bars that include fresh fruits and veggies as well as hard boiled eggs with interesting savory dipping sauces and seasonings (like everything bagel spice), and even some drinkable soups and bone broth cups. “These snacking innovations mean ingredient lists are shrinking and there’s a lot less guesswork in picking up a quick snack you can feel better about,” the Whole Foods press release states.
You may be familiar with the bright purple Filipino yam as an ice cream flavor, but it’s predicted to find its way across the whole dessert world in 2020. It’s a healthy addition (basically, it’s a sweet potato) to sweets like cakes, doughnuts, and even pies, all of which could use the pop of Vitamin A and Vitamin C found in these yams.
3. Non-alcoholic beverages
Mocktails will be mainstream in 2020, beyond just dry January. “One trend that I expect to emerge in a big way in 2020 is zero-proof drinks. The ‘sober curious’ lifestyle is definitely having a moment right now, and more and more people are starting to embrace non-alcoholic beverages as an alternative to traditional beer, wine and cocktails,” says Chris Manca, a Local Forager for the Northeast Region at Whole Foods Market. You can enjoy the taste of your favorite brews and cocktail blends without the dehydration or nasty hangover that typically comes along with it. “Athletic Brewing Co, based in Stratford, CT, is leading the charge with their craft brewed, non-alcoholic beers. They look and taste as good as any craft beer, and fit nicely with an active, healthy lifestyle,” Manca says.
4. Blending meat and plant-based foods
Not everyone is ready or wants to go vegan or even entirely plant-based, and flexitarian has become a hugely popular dietary choice. So why not mix meat with plant-based food in a big way, in your burgers? According to Whole Foods’ press release, “Chefs across the country have been on board with the trend for years through James Beard Foundation’s The Blended Burger Project, a movement that strives to make the iconic burger ‘better for customers and for the planet’ by blending in at least 25 percent fresh mushrooms.” There will be a surge in ready-to-purchase burgers that include 30 percent plant ingredients, with the goal of lowering cholesterol and fat content, the press release points out. Plus, using less beef is a much more sustainable option, too.
5. Fruit and vegetable flours
It’s no secret that plain white flour is not helping your metabolism or gut health (research has found that whole grains are much better for a healthier gut microbiome). “As consumers look for more ways to boost their bake, ‘super’ flours delivering protein and fiber join the trend,” according to Whole Foods’ trend report. Cauliflower gnocchi and pizza crusts became huge in 2019, and now you can make your own at home. Fruit and vegetable flours, like cauliflower and banana, are expected to be super popular in 2020 for more fiber-filled, less carb-heavy cooking and baking.
6. Alternative sugars
With the rise of the keto diet, zero-calorie sweeteners like Swerve and other erythritol blends became a common ingredient in recipes, but natural sugars, from ingredients like dates, are expected to become a baking must. Expect to get creative with sweeteners.
“Syrupy reductions from fruit sources like monk fruit, pomegranates, coconut and dates are one way to add concentrated, unique flavors into recipes for desserts, meat glazes and marinades,” the Whole Foods press release states.
7. Plant-based yogurts and cheeses
Oat milk was probably the number one trendy coffee additive of 2019, and it’s expected to stay hugely popular in 2020. Plant-based dairy products are branching out further this year for those who eat vegan or have dairy intolerances. They’ll include oat milk and coconut milk yogurt as well as oat milk and other plant milk-based cheeses. “Other plant-based milks come from soy, nuts, and even hemp,” notes Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, a sports dietitian based in New York City. It’s important to note that just because something is labeled “vegan” doesn’t mean it’s clean or free of added sugar. “Oat milk is made from oats, water, and sometimes a sweetener. You have to read the label to see the exact ingredients, since there are usually additives,” Rizzo adds.
8. Plant butters, beyond soy
According to Whole Foods, soy is on its way out this year in terms of plant-based ingredients, especially for butters, because there are much healthier butter options out there than margarine-like blends of soy and vegetable oils. “Has (insert nut, seed, snack) been made into a butter yet? It’s likely to happen in 2020,” according to Whole Foods’ trend list. Nut and seed butters are taking an interesting turn too– like watermelon seed butter, and macadamia butter. You can even find vegan butters made from pili nuts. “It helps the trend that spreads and butters are touting paleo- and keto-friendly attributes, but transparency is also a key player in this trend. Many brands are looking to either eliminate the use of palm oil or promote a Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil certification and use nuts that are grown in ways with less likelihood for environmental impact,” Whole Foods states.
A trend that’s expected to get bigger in 2020 is quite an interesting meat alternative: the tropical fruit jackfruit. “Shredded jackfruit mimics the texture of meat, and it has a meaty taste,” Rizzo says (think pulled chicken or pork). The only problem is that it’s not even close to as high in protein as meat would be, so you’d have to pair it with some protein-heavy sides. “Most of the jackfruit you see in the stores will be pre-made, so make sure you read the ingredients to ensure that it’s not coated in a sugary or salty sauce,” Rizzo points out.
10. Pre-packaged protein shakes and drinks for athletes
Protein, especially plant-based protein, is key to have with you at all times for on-the-go workout recovery, which explains the surge in already packaged, ready-to-shake-and-drink protein beverages. “I think athletes are realizing the importance of fueling during intense workouts and refueling after them,” Rizzo says. “Also, I think we’ve seen an increase in people doing intense activities for fun, like marathons and triathlons,” she adds. In some cases, Rizzo says, you can get enough protein from food, but if you’re looking for additional post-workout protein, try something like Skratch Labs protein products, because they don’t include many additional additives.