1. Matcha tea:
Haven't heard of Matcha tea yet? You will. Matcha tea is the dried leaves of
green tea ground into a powder. Before the leaves hit the ground however, they are shaded for 30 days to increase their chlorophyll production. That means that when you drink Matcha, you are literally drinking the tea leaves and all the healthy chlorophyll contained in it, as opposed to sipping water that is brewed (and diluted) from a green tea bag or strainer.
A 2009 study found that consumption of Matcha tea helped to slow the progression of kidney and liver damage in Type 2 diabetic rats. One important note though, if you're enjoying Matcha tea, then keep it plain. A 2010 study found that the addition of milk to Matcha tea slightly decreased the antioxidant capacity.
While the benefits of green tea have been well established, and the research for Matcha still need to catch up to our enthusiasm, one thing is certain, you can expect to see a lot more of this hot (both in temperature and trend) drink in 2015.
2. Broccoli sprouts:
Broccoli sprouts (which look like alfalfa sprouts) are starting to pop up in trendy restaurants Nationwide. While they're a good looking garnish next to a piece of fish, it's their powers once consumed that will blow your mind (and your ability to fight against cancer). Broccoli sprouts are exceptionally high in an enzyme called myrosinase and myrosinase is the essential accompaniment to another power factor found in broccoli called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is the main component in broccoli that provides all the cancer fighting benefits. The reason this is important is because without myrosinase, sufolafrane doesn't work so well, and the benefits of broccoli are reduced. Enter the humble sprout.
A 2011 study found that combining broccoli sprouts with broccoli increased the sufolraframe absorption by 50 percent. That means that even if you kill your broccoli benefits through improper cooking, you may still get these benefits back by combining with the sprouts. Broccoli sprouts may also play a role in the prevention of cancers of the stomach, bladder and skin.
In the next year, Americans will most likely continue to debate the health impact of red meat, and whether or not it harms us or helps us. Above and beyond health however, there's something else we should be looking at as well -- the environmental impact of our meat heavy diet. Scientists predict that as the population increases, our demand on meat as food will as well, leading to increased livestock methane emissions and further increases in climate change and pollution. So meat eaters, where oh where will you get protein that makes you feel good about your health and the earth? It's time to say hello to the cricket.
Crickets (as well as mealworms, locusts, and grasshoppers) can provide the high quality protein that so many meat lovers are seeking without the carbon footprint according to several new studies. Americans in general need to adapt to a healthier diet for many reasons, but perhaps now more then ever, we need to think about the environment as well.
According to a new survey, most individuals are ready to do that. Therefore, you might be seeing a little less cow and a lot more insect in 2015. By the way, if you want to avoid meat all together (a cricket is, still an animal product), plants have a minimal impact on the environment and can provide plenty of fabulous protein as well!
You've heard of Brussels sprouts, and surely you know all about kale so imagine the fabulous union that would be made if these two cruciferous vegetables decided to get together. Guess what -- they have! All together now; let's welcome Kalettes to the 2015 dinner table! You may be thinking at this point Ka-what? I admit, I didn't know a lot about them either, but when The Centers For Science in The Public Interest deemed them as the food to eat, and the Today Show called it "the brangelina of vegetables" I had to find out more!
The brain child of a British seed company, Kalettes (also known as Lollipop kale sprouts and BrusselKale) are a hybrid of half Brussels sprouts, half kale and look like Brussels sprouts with leaves sprouting out. They boast the same benefits that both kale and Brussels sprouts have with a variation of the taste. If they're not already in stores near you, they will be soon!
I'm half Dominican, so plantains have always been the norm in my house. These fruits have become more prevalent on restaurant menus in the past 18 months and will continue to make a strong showing in 2015.
A 2010 study found that the soluble fiber in plantains may help in the treatment of Crohn's disease. In addition to this, plantains are high in fiber, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A. The key is to eat them in the healthiest way possible. Instead of frying your plantains (which is unfortunately the most common way you will find them at a mainstream restaurant), try making them Dominican style by making Mangu, a dish of boiled and mashed plantains with some healthy vegetable oil and sautéed onions on top. Yum!
6. Umeboshi paste:
Made from picked, umebashi plums, this fermented Japanese condiment may be just what you're looking for to kick your salt habit. Thought it does contain salt, it's in such a concentrated amount that using only a teeny tiny amount will go a long way. Look for versions that are made without the use of dyes or additives and use as a seasoning in soups, sauces, salad dressings, dips, stir-fry and sushi. The fruit from which umeboshi is made from (the Ume) may also have a positive effect on the prevention of cancer according to one study.
Move over kale -- watercress just took your gold medal! A 2014 study found watercress as having the highest nutrient score of any fruit or vegetable. This wasn't the first accolade for watercress though. In 2009 and 2010 researchers found that components in watercress actually helped to turn off breast cancer cells.
This Chinese fruit made quite a showing in 2014, from fruit cups to ice cream, and 2015 will most likely be another big year. Found fresh in the fall and canned the rest of the year, this little bud boasts some big benefits. High in potassium and vitamin C, a 2014 study found that consumption of lychee was positively associated with reduced inflammation. Other studies have demonstrated the power of lychee consumption on the reduction of certain cancers as well.
If you reserve buying capers only when you're making picatta, then you're missing out on a whole world of disease prevention! A 2007 study found that when capers (immature flower buds of the Capparis spinosa plant) were added to meat, they decreased byproducts formed during digestion that are associated with cancer risk. That means, anytime you eat meat, you should probably consider spicing it up with this tasty plant. You can also use capers to spice up eggs, pasta dishes, chicken salad and even martinis!
10. Black-, mung- and garbanzo-bean pastas:
Non-wheat noodles will see a huge increase in 2015 as individuals seek to get off the wheat wagon and onto the bean wagon. The most common varieties you'll see will include black bean, mung bean and garbanzo bean. In addition to being gluten-free, these pastas will most likely be higher in fiber and protein and lower on the glycemic index than their wheat counterparts. That means, you're more likely to get fuller quicker.
In addition to pasta options, you will also be able to get bean-based cereals, chips and crackers. As with all foods, choose the version that has the least amount of ingredients and avoid "blends" that simply mix the bean powder with refined wheat flours.
11. Khorasan wheat:
Whether it's your favorite restaurant or local grocery store, you may start seeing a lot more of this ancient grain. A small, randomized trial in the Journal of European Clinical Nutrition examined the health benefits of khorasan wheat (found in your grocery store under the trademark Kamut). Researchers found that khorasan wheat was associated with impressive reductions in cardiovascular risk factors with notable improvements in metabolic, lipid, antioxidant and inflammatory blood profiles.
12. Purple peppers:
Purple foods have long been associated with fabulous health benefits and studies show that purple varieties of plants such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, corn and blueberries contain more health boosting benefits than their blander cousins thanks to a compound called anthocyanins (the component that actually provides the deep purple hue).
That's why I was elated to see a purple pepper in the grocery store the other day! While few studies have documented the health benefits of the purple pepper, it's safe to say that adding it to your diet in 2015 may boost both the color on your plate and your health.
Adding spices can increase the nutritional benefits of almost any food, but some spices are more impressive than others. Rosemary has not only been associated with reductions in cancer causing compounds when cooking meat, it's also been linked to overall reductions in diabetes risk, Alzheimer's disease and macular degeneration and may play a role in improving brain health as well. Now that's one spice worth stocking the spice rack with!
14. Coconut flour:
Coconut flour has gained popularity in the past few years due to its gluten-free (and bakery friendly) status. But it's what coconut flour has that other flours don't that gets me excited! Studies have shown that coconut flour is higher in fiber and lower on the glycemic index than other flours, perhaps making it a better baking option for individuals looking to lose weight.
Additionally, it's one of the only flours containing medium chain triglycerides. In addition to being highly versatile in baked foods, it also may be a good choice for individuals with diabetes due to its low GI status.
15. Pine nuts:
Overall nut consumption has been associated with decreased mortality as well as a decrease in risk for metabolic syndrome, but when many of my patients think about nuts, they never imagine the humble seeds of the pine cone!
In addition to enjoying the same benefits as many of their popular counterparts (like peanuts, pistachios and walnuts), pine nuts may additionally help to suppress appetite and create fullness: two dream side effects for individuals struggling to lose weight. Go beyond pesto and use pine nuts in salads, baked treats like cookies and scones and vegetarian dishes.
Some of the foods listed in here may be brand new to you and some may be foods you've eaten for years. One thing is certain though: regardless of how new, old or trendy these foods may become in the next year, all of them will help to improve your health. After all, good health is a trend that never goes out of style.
Christina Fedeli contributed to this article.