With a challenging year behind us and a fresh perspective on the important things in life, COVID-19 has empowered people around the globe to have a greater focus on health and wellbeing, particularly through food choices.
As a result, we can expect to see terms like "functional foods" and "flexitarian" becoming more prominent in 2021 with an increase in demand for health foods that support our physical, as well as mental wellbeing.
To keep ahead of these emerging trends and get fresh inspiration to reboot your health this year - here are the top health food and nutrition trends to expect in 2021.
1. Functional Food
With increased focus on health and wellness over the past year and more people taking proactive measures to protect their immunity in response to COVID-19, functional foods are gaining increased traction globally.
According to a recent study by SmartBrief, almost a third of consumers said they were consuming more functional foods or functional beverages (29%) - a trend which we will see continue into 2021.
What are functional foods? Functional foods are foods that deliver additional or enhanced benefits over and above their basic nutritional value.
For example, garlic is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese and selenium. In addition to its nutritional content, the functional benefits of garlic include its antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiviral and immune-strengthening activity.
In the current global climate, we can expect to see other functional ingredients with immune-strengthening properties like turmeric, ginger, echinacea and elderberry incorporated into more food and beverage products in 2021.
Here are some examples of functional food and beverage products:
- Strawberry Immunity Superfood Breakfast Bowl by Craft Breakfast - immunity-protecting blend with locally-grown strawberries and raspberries
- Kiwi Cleanse Superfood Breakfast Bowl by Craft Breakfast - blended with immune-strengthening turmeric and ginger
- Acai Berry Glow Superfood Breakfast Bowl by Craft Breakfast - boosted with antioxidant-rich acai and blackcurrant berries
- Superfood Smoothie Box by Craft Smoothie - includes all the ingredients to make 5 immunity-supporting smoothie recipes
- Ahi Cider Immune Tonic by Honest Goods - apple cider vinegar infused with lemon, garlic, turmeric, ginger and echinacea
- Immuno Boost Tea by Artemis - traditional plant formula with a sweet taste of elderflower, Lindon blossom and thyme
2. Flexitarian Diet
While vegan or plant-based diets have gained increased traction in recent years, for those who are used to eating their meat and three veg, the idea of following a 100% vegan diet is often seen as an unsustainable option.
With growing awareness around the critical role that a diet rich in plant-based whole foods can play in strengthening your immune system and overall health, coupled with rising concerns around climate change, more people are open to taking a part-time approach to adopting a plant-based diet. This more flexible approach is referred to as a flexitarian diet.
What are the principles of a flexitarian diet?
- Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains
- Prioritise plant-based protein over protein from animal sources
- Be flexible and incorporate meat, fish and animal products occasionally
- Focus on whole foods and avoid processed foods and refined sugars wherever possible
Our popular Plant-Based Meal Planner eBook follows this flexible approach and includes a series of easy gluten free and dairy free recipes that can be enjoyed with or without meat.
3. Nutrition for Mental Health
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, mental health issues have impacted a significant portion of our community. A government inquiry into Mental Health and Addition in 2018 revealed that one in five New Zealanders experience mental illness or significant mental distress each year.
With mental health issues being heightened in the face of COVID-19, the importance of self care and the fundamental link between nutrition and mental health are becoming more widely discussed.
Which nutrients are good for mental health?
- B vitamins and folate
- Amino acids
- Minerals - especially zinc, magnesium and iron
- Vitamin D
- Plant-based antioxidants
Source: ADHD New Zealand
What is the best diet for mental health?
To help boost your mental health, focus on eating a colourful variety of plant-based foods: fruit, vegetables (particularly dark leafy greens), nuts, seeds and legumes. Be sure to incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds and salmon. To make sure you're getting your daily dose of omega-3s, our Superfood Smoothie Boxes and Instant Superfood Breakfast Bowls are a handy addition to your diet. Eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut and yoghurt is also key for maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, which can in turn help support mental health.
4. Shopping Local
As a natural flow on from COVID-19, New Zealanders have gained greater awareness of the power of where they spend their money. This has led to increased focus on shopping local and buying from small-scale businesses directly, rather than third-party retailers.
In turn, we can expect to see enhanced promotion of incorporating local ingredients into our food and beverage products. This is a trend that's also becoming more prominent in the hospitality industry with more cafes and restaurants promoting using locally-sourced ingredients.
Best ways to support local:
- Stock up on the essentials from your local farmers market
- Purchase directly from local producers - either online or in-person
- Dine with cafes and restaurants that partner with local producers
- After your purchase, leave a review for the local business - just one review can go a long way in generating further business for a small-scale provider
5. Family-Focused Nutrition
The key to promoting optimal health for you and your family is keeping the kids engaged in enjoying healthy meals that are beneficial for their development, as well as your own.
With more time spent at home in 2020, shared meal times have resurged with parents searching for options to keep the whole family happy. This is a trend we can expect to see continue into 2021 with boundaries between "kid" and "adult" foods becoming increasingly blurred and plant-based dishes getting the full family thumbs-up.
What are the benefits of focusing on nutrition for the whole family?
- Enhance energy, strengthen immune function and support optimal health - when it comes to protecting the health of the whole family, you can't go wrong with promoting a diet rich in a colourful range of plant-based whole foods
- Less cooking - you'll spend less time in the kitchen when you don't have to prepare multiple meals to suit different family members
- Realise the benefits of shared meal times - according to Stanford Children's Health, eating together tends to promote more sensible eating habits, which in turn helps family members manage their weight more easily
- Lead by example - by practising healthy eating habits with your children, they should feel more empowered to make healthy food decisions both now and in the long-term
Education and understanding the "why" behind food choices is key. Teaching your children to appreciate the functional benefits of the food they're eating will support them in making healthier food decisions.
Craft Smoothie's Superfood Smoothie Boxes are hugely popular with time-poor families as they include easy-to-follow recipes cards and all the ingredients you need to make family-friendly superfood smoothies. The recipe cards discuss the nutritional and functional benefits of the smoothie ingredients so there's fresh knowledge to gain with every recipe.
6. Breakfast Is King
"With more people working from home, the most important meal is getting the attention it deserves, not just on weekends, but every day" - reports Whole Foods Market's top 10 anticipated food trends for 2021.
Lockdowns halted long commutes and the typical morning rush, leaving more people to discover the impact that a healthy breakfast routine has on your energy levels, productivity and resilience as the day unfolds.
If you're short on time in the mornings and are no longer working from home, you can still enjoy a functional, nutrient-dense breakfast in minutes (with all the ingredients delivered to your door).
Check out the convenient functional breakfast options from Craft Smoothie and Craft Breakfast below. All of these options are 100% plant-based, dairy free, refined sugar free, vegan-friendly and crafted with organic superfoods.
Breakfast for the whole family:
Keto breakfast ideas:
Gluten free breakfast ideas: