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This Healthy Food Is Going To Be Everywhere In 2018

Photo: Nadine Greeff

A recent Top Trends in Prepared Foods in 2017 report noted that veganism is up 500 percent from 2014! Now, 6 percent of Americans identify as vegan compared to just 1 percent a few years ago. Why the big rise in popularity?

Well, with research continuing to show us the benefits of a plant-based diet, it's increasingly difficult to argue with science. A new awareness in plant foods and their benefits allows us to make more conscious decisions about what kinds of plants to put in our body to maximize our nutrients and get in everything that we need to still thrive without animal protein. And when looking at the recently released Whole Foods 2018 food trend report, one thing is abundantly clear—2018 is the year of plants. Let’s take a look at some of these next-level plant foods that are going to be filling up your grocery carts this next year, and beyond:

1. Flower power:

While lavender-infused tonics and elixirs are nothing new, 2018 will be filled with all sorts of floral-inspired goodies. Everything from rose to the new-kid-on-the-block elderflower, derived from the flowers of the elderberry tree, will be in all types of drinks and main courses. Wellness junkies will love this increased popularity as Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, once referred to elderberry as his "medicine chest" due to its intense antimicrobial and antiviral abilities. You’ll even see whole flowers and petals added into certain dishes to bring an eye-catching addition to the soft and sweet flavors from these florals.

2. Bleeding veggies:

Soy-loaded veggie burger? That is so 1995. Instead, pick up a veggie burger that bleeds like real animal meat. We are definitely in the new millennium now. It might seem like witchcraft, but these burgers get their blood-red juiciness from using all-natural beetroot juice keeping your burger 100 percent plant-based. And it’s not just the look that is eerily similar to a beef; it’s the taste as well.

Heme is an iron molecule that is found in all plants and animal protein. It is extremely high in animal protein and gives your regular burger its distinct beefy flavor. These plant-based burgers take advantage of this molecule and are loaded with plant-derived heme, which makes it so your burger’s flavor mimics the ones you can find at your favorite diner.

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3. Zero-waste veggies:

A big draw to a plant-based lifestyle is the positive impact it can have on the environment. Food companies are taking this concept and putting it to work by coming up with new ways and products to reduce food waste. Most of the time, people don’t use the entirety of the fruit or vegetable they are cooking with, such as the rind or leaves.

Besides just using these commonly tossed items for compost (which is still another great way to be environmentally conscious), companies are getting creative with salads, using the leftover green bits of veggies or even pickled watermelon rinds! Use these as inspiration and put a little elbow grease in the kitchen to make these yourself. You may find a new favorite recipe and expose yourself to additional nutrients.

4. Plants go keto:

High-fat, low-carb diets are on the rise in popularity. The ketogenic diet is definitely not a new concept since it has been used for years as a natural treatment for children with epilepsy. But it is taking the health world by storm with growing research of its ability to help with everything from inflammation, improved gut health, increased energy, and blood sugar balance. The ketogenic diet is a go-to tool I often use in my functional medicine center. Since it is a high-fat diet by nature, people typically focus a lot on dairy and animal proteins, which are a no-go for vegan and vegetarian diets. But more and more plant-based dieters are exploring a ketogenic diet and taking advantage of natural plant-based fats found in avocado and coconut. If my guess is correct, with the way things are going, you’ll start to see a huge jump in this diet among the general population, including one of the last places you would expect: plant-based (Dr. Carrie Diulus, M.D., explains more about being a ketogenic vegan in this interview).

5. Elevated fungi:

I’ve talked about adaptogenic mushrooms plenty in the past, and the food industry is finally catching on to the healing power of these fungi that I and many other wellness advocates have been going on about for years. Mushrooms like chaga, reishi, cordyceps, and lion’s mane were once hard to come by and most often only found in powdered form. You’d think I was a mad scientist with all of my mixing and matching of powders to create different superfood elixirs.

But no more of that! This year we’ll have a fungal overgrowth with these mushrooms added to almost anything and everything including mushroom-infused teas, hot chocolate, bottled coffees, soups, and even lotions and skin care products.

Want to know what trends are up and coming in wellness, beauty, and more? Check out our official 2018 trend report.

William Cole, D.C.

Functional Medicine Practitioner
Dr. Will Cole, leading functional medicine expert, graduated from Southern California University of Health Sciences as a doctor of chiropractic. His extensive postdoctorate education and training is in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. Dr. Cole consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors and customizing health programs for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal dysfunctions, digestive disorders and brain problems. Visit www.drwillcole.com for free e-books, recipes, and webcam evaluation.
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William Cole, D.C.

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