You may have heard whispers about some of the latest healthy food products—like chia seeds, ancient grains and coconut flour. But what do the experts think? As part of our partnership with HealthyAperture.com, we polled 38 registered dietitians and asked what new healthy food products they’re MOST excited about. Check out their latest discoveries, and how they use them.
Chia seeds. You may have heard that these ancient seeds are replacing flax seeds as the latest healthy add-on—unlike flax, they don’t need to be ground and they keep much longer. Dietitians like chia because the seeds are packed with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and they expand in your stomach to help you feel full. Sprinkle them on oatmeal, salads or yogurt, or blend into a smoothie or a pudding.
Hemp hearts. Also known as shelled hemp seeds, hemp hearts are another increasingly popular healthy food product packed with protein, fatty acids and B vitamins. “They’re great to throw on top of foods for added benefits and nutty crunch,” says registered dietitian Louise Goldberg, who blogs at An Apple A Day Nutrition.
Coconut flour. Just when you thought the coconut craze was over … Still, it’s easy to see why some dietitians like this flour: It’s gluten-free, relatively low in carbs and has a natural sweetness. Be aware that you can’t sub this one-for-one with traditional flour; you’ll need to make other adjustments to recipes in order to use it. “It’s a steep learning curve, as it doesn’t behave like other flours,” says registered dietitian Alison Murray of the blog Om Nom Ally. “But the results are high in fiber and protein!”
Freekeh. 2013 is shaping up to be the year of the ancient grain. A cousin of bulgur, also popular in Middle Eastern cooking, freekeh is a new favorite among dietitians. It’s lower on the glycemic index than other whole grains, and higher in protein and fiber than quinoa. However, it’s not gluten-free. But if that’s not an issue for you, try it in place of brown rice or couscous. It has a naturally smoky flavor and chewy texture.
Nutritional yeast. This powdery, deactivated yeast has long been a staple in vegan diets because it can substitute for cheese in dishes. But anyone can benefit from its taste and versatility. “It adds umami flavor, especially to vegetarian foods,” says registered dietitian Michelle Dudash of MichelleDudash.com. “It’s low in sodium, so it can be sprinkled on stir fries, pizza and much more.”
Microgreens. The term “microgreens” doesn’t just apply to the size of the leafy veggies—it also means they’re younger, having been picked at less than 14 days old. And according to a new study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, they may have 4-6 times more nutrients than their older siblings. Dietitians also love the convenience factor. “I’ve recently discovered I can use them for just about anything: a base for salads, soups, smoothies and on tacos,” says registered dietitian Rachel Begun, who blogs at The Gluten-Free RD.