Plant based diets, according to Mintel's 2017 global food and drink report, are set to explode onto the scene this year, which makes a lot of sense, considering that veganism has grown a whopping 360% over the last 10 years. However, there is no need to grow your own because things are about to get extremely hi-tech.
Chilean based Not Company is already using Artificial intelligence (AI) to create plant-based alternatives to animal products such as cheese, milk, mayonnaise, and eggs. According to the company itself, the AI algorithm "understands molecular connections between food and the human perception of taste and texture." This algorithm has already led to the production of NotMilk, which is made from peas, rice, almonds, nuts, linseed, coconut and vanilla. However, just because it tastes authentic, does it still have nutritional value?
Tim Spector, professor of molecular genetics at King's College London and author of "The diet Myth: The Science Behind What We Eat", declares that "you might be able to replicate the textures and forms of foods through AI, but you can't replicate the function of that food in the body. For example, the lactose in milk will contain bacteria that feed your gut flora, that can't be replicated with AI."
Last year saw a rise in interest in the fat-burning and muscle benefits of beetroot, due to its nitric oxide content. This year, blackcurrants, for a similar reason, are due to take centre stage. Thanks to an abundance of antioxidants known as anthocyanins, this tasty fruit is being hailed for its effects on muscle recovery and fat-burning.
University studies have tested New Zealand blackcurrant extract, taken as a supplement, and have found out that it can increase fat loss by up to a third when exercising. It may also help dilate blood vessels, resulting in a 20% increase in blood flow and nutrient and oxygen delivery to the cells.
Sweeteners get a bad rap, and rightly so. Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and sucralose are created using chemicals that can have unwanted side-effects - you'd be much better off with old-fashioned sugar. However, we're about to see the emergence of a group of sweeteners with positive benefits, such as feeding the good bacteria in the gut.
Take inulin, commonly found in chick peas, chicory root, bananas, asparagus, and lentils, as an example. Its concentrated form is now being used as a nutritionally rich sweetener. Rick Hay, a nutritional scientist, states that "inulin is only 0.1 on the sweetness index, compared to sugar, which is 1, so it only has one tenth the sweetness. But, what is exciting about it is that it has also been shown in good scientific studies to help reduce stomach fat."
Inulin has an abundance of high-resistance starch, which is what gives it its effect on visceral fat. One study carried out in October 2015 on 44 subjects (split equally into two groups) found that after four and a half months, both groups had lost 5% of their body weight by week nine, but those who had been supplementing with inulin lost more weight between weeks nine and 18 while the others plateaued. Most of this weight was lost from around their mid-sections.
Salt seems to have turned from a sinner to a saint; however, we are not talking about any old salt - we're talking about a new type of salt that contains less sodium and more minerals that are beneficial to the body. Too much sodium is bad for you as it pulls water into your blood vessels, thereby increasing blood pressure and the risk of a stroke.
An example of this new healthier type of salt is Oryx (from South Africa); it has 35% less sodium and since it hasn't undergone as much processing as regular salt, it has more magnesium, zinc and potassium in it.
Five Superfoods to Watch Out for This Year
1. Maqui berries
These Chilean berries are rich in vitamin C and antioxidant anthocyanins (which are associated with anti-ageing). You can buy these as a concentrated powder or whole.
2. Watermelon Seeds
Watermelon seeds will be everywhere this year. These seeds are rich in essential nutrients such as
magnesium, iron, folate, and 'good' fats. You can buy these roasted, lightly salted, mild chilli, or natural.
Chaga is said to be the king of medicinal mushrooms; it boosts your immune system with its antioxidant and
4. Nut oils
Nut butters were present in 2016, but this year, nut oils are set to take over. These oils, from almond to cashew, walnut to hazelnut, are pungent and strong tasting, so you only need a little. These oils are healthy as they contain a high content of antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids.
5. Algae fats
Up until recently, vegetarians and vegans who needed omega-3 fat supplements had only flaxseeds as their available options. However, flaxseeds are lacking the omega-3 fats known as EPA and DHA - these are found only in fish and are not made by the body. Algae, on the other hand, contains these substances which makes it a great omega-3 source for those who do not consume animal products.