Functional flavour. Clean eating. Raw foods. Juicing. You’ve heard of these trends in healthy eating, but what do they mean? Food For Mzansi’s resident dietician, Andrea Du Plessis, provides a handy healthy food trend guide and all the health benefits to look out for.
Naturally functional foods are foods or food ingredients that, in their natural form, have intrinsic health benefits.
- Oily fish, walnuts and flaxseeds – these provide omega 3 fatty acids to support brain health, memory and concentration
- Ginger – benefits digestive health
- Oat bran – helps to lower cholesterol
- Avocado – provides omega 9 oils to support healthy circulation
Foods that add flavour and have functional health benefits.
- Cocoa – rich in polyphenols that benefit cardiovascular health and mental alertness
- Garlic – has antimicrobial effects to support the immune system
- Mint leaves – soothe digestive discomfort and supports mental alertness
Fermentation occurs when a yeast or bacteria converts a sugar into acid, gas, or alcohol. Fermented foods have a range of benefits, including:
- Adding probiotics to the diet – By adding significant amounts of probiotics into your diet, fermented foods help to improve digestive health, in some instances reducing food intolerances
- Increased bioavailability of valuable nutrients – Increasing the proportion of nutrients that is absorbed from the diet and used by the body can help to reduce the risk of certain cancers and improve mental health and overall well-being.
The raw foodism trend is inspired by the belief that eating foods in their raw and most natural state provides maximum nutritional and health benefit.
The benefits of raw foods include:
- Bioactivity – Raw vegetables such as broccoli and other greens contain enzymes and other bioactive ingredients that add health benefits beyond nutrition.
- More fluids and fibre – A raw food diet generally contains higher levels of natural fluid and dietary fibre, which benefits satiety and regular digestive function.
- Higher vitamin levels – Raw vegetables such as tomatoes and carrots contain higher levels of vitamin C than when cooked, even though the antioxidants in these two vegetables are more bioavailable after being cooked.
Clean eating is the inclusion of foods in their most natural form, mostly raw, or minimally processed, handled, refined or cooked. Examples include a boiled egg, avocado, or lentil and spinach salad, where the egg and lentils are cooked, served with raw salad ingredients.
Benefits of clean eating include:
- Increased overall nutritional density of the diet
- Avoidance of additives such as preservatives, colourants, sweeteners, flavourants, stabilisers, etc.
Juicing involves both the extraction of fruit, vegetable and herb juices for fresh, raw consumption, or the inclusion into other foods and beverages.
- A juicing diet may consist of water and juices from fruits, vegetables and herbs only, as a form of a detoxification diet.
- These juice or pulp extracts could be included as is, or as ingredients into other foods or meals, such as smoothies, soups or salad dressings.
ALSO READ: Raw vs. Processed foods – All you need to know.