With a record-breaking 2,050 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) responding, Today’s Dietitian‘s “What’s Trending in Nutrition” national survey finds that consumers will be “going with their gut” in the coming year by seeking out foods that improve health and overall well-being.
What’s changed for next year is the rise of “fermented foods” to the top spot. RDNs predict fermented foods will be highly sought by consumers in 2018. While widely known as the process used for making wine or beer, fermentation is a natural, metabolic process that involves using sugar to create compounds like organic acids, alcohols and gases. Fermented foods may have powerful health benefits, like boosting gut health and reducing inflammation.
The rankings are:
- Fermented foods (like yogurt)
- Green tea
- Ancient grains
- Exotic fruits
- Coconut products
When it comes to diets, after “clean eating” and “plant-based diets,” the “ketogenic diet” has made its way to the top as No. 3. This high-fat, generous-protein, barely-any-carb diet designed to produce ketone bodies for energy debuted with a high ranking. In 2012, What’s Trending in Nutrition predicted that consumers would move toward “natural, less processed foods” (according to 72 percent of respondents). This national sample of RDNs forecasted that consumers were trending toward “simple ingredients” and a greater focus on plants. Their projections have come to fruition as top diets for 2018. Coined “clean eating” and “plant-based diets,” consumers are demanding foods and products that fit this way of life.
In 2013, RDNs felt that the trend in the “low-carb diet” had declined. One year later, there was a rise in Paleo, wheat belly and gluten free. Now, RDNs rank wheat belly as one of the diets on its way out and ketogenic has overtaken Paleo. Given the popularity of the high-fat ketogenic diet, it makes sense that the “low fat” diet was also ranked as a has-been.
“The movement toward clean eating reflects a change in how consumers view food,” said Jenna A. Bell, PhD, RD, SVP of Pollock Communications, a full-service food, health, and wellness public relations agency that partnered with Today’s Dietitian on the survey. “Consumers are searching for nutrition information and equating diet with overall well-being.”
As an example, Bell points out that the quick rise of fermented foods in the top 10 superfood list shows that consumers have expanded their definition of wellness to include benefits like gut health.
“It also suggests that consumers are digging deeper for information about the food they eat and, in this instance, finding out why yogurt, kefir or kimchi is so good for them,” she added.
RDNs continue to recognize that consumers rank taste, cost, convenience and healthfulness as most important in the supermarket. The RDN messages remain consistent: MyPlate is the gold standard for helping consumers eat right, (79 percent use it to educate) and it’s best to make small changes, focus on the overall eating pattern (not a single food or nutrient) and make gradual shifts over time. The RDNs top recommendations for 2018 are to limit highly processed foods, increase fiber intake, keep a food journal and choose non-caloric beverages such as unsweetened tea or coffee.