Fermented Foods Still on Top, but Superfood List Sees Some Changes

Fermented Foods Still on Top, but Superfood List Sees Some Changes Pollock Communications Today's Dietitian
Top 10 superfoods as chosen by registered dietitian nutritionists in the annual What's Trending in Nutrition? survey

According to the 7th annual What’s Trending in Nutrition? Survey from Pollock Communications and trade publication Today’s Dietitian, fermented foods retained their top spot on the list of superfoods for 2019, joined by new entries beets, blueberries and nondairy milks.

Perhaps even more interestingly, the registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) surveyed said that a “healthy” label will begin to outpace cost and taste as consumer purchase drivers, as healthfulness moved up to second place, while convenience remained at No. 1 and cost and taste took the third and fourth spots, respectively, followed by natural, organic and gluten-free.

“We have witnessed a progression in consumer demand for ‘health’ and ‘clean’ throughout the seven years of our survey, and as Millennials have been moving into their 30s,” noted Louise Pollock, president of Pollock Communications, a New York -based, independent full-service food, health, and wellness public relations agency. “We have seen the food industry respond by changing their strategy from a taste, cost-driven approach to one that appeals to these powerful health and wellness-seeking consumers.”

As for diets, dietitians identified keto, which requires significant reductions of carbohydrates, grains and sugar in favor of vegetables, animal fat and meat, as the most popular consumer regimen, dislodging clean eating from last year’s No. 1 ranking, while intermittent fasting showed up for the first time, in second place. Clean eating, meanwhile, fell to No. 3. Respondents noted that consumers are seeking diets primarily to weight loss.

“It's not that ‘clean eating’ has declined in popularity,” clarified Pollock Communications SVP Jenna A. Bell, PhD, RDN. “We are still seeing the consumer push for cleaner labels and the industry continues their work to deliver it. But what’s different here is that Millennial consumers are going beyond eliminating a food group, like cutting gluten, to making more drastic changes that require real lifestyle adjustments.”

According to Bell, this shift reflects a greater recognition of the importance of what we eat: “[I]t's beyond food is medicine; now food is the core of wellness.” 

The top 10 superfoods for 2019 are:

  1. Fermented foods, like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi and miso
  2. Avocado
  3. Seeds
  4. Ancient grains
  5. Exotic fruit, like acai and golden berries
  6. Blueberries
  7. Beets
  8. Nuts
  9. Coconut products
  10. Nondairy milks

The continuing popularity of fermented foods is likely attributable to their powerful benefits, which include boosting gut health and reducing inflammation. Meanwhile, kale has dropped off list, with nondairy milks securing the No. 10 spot, thanks to the rise in popularity of plant proteins and making plant-based swaps. Speaking of plants, beets and blueberries are also new to this year’s list.

“Plant-based eating has been a major focus in the dietetic community,” affirmed Bell. “Now, consumers are hearing this message and it’s what they want.”

“RDs are experts at predicting trends because they consistently know what to expect from consumers,” said Today’s Dietitian Publisher Mara Honicker. “Their trustworthy nutrition knowledge educates and improves consumer wellness, and their insights drive the future of food in industry and public policy.”

Other survey results include the finding that Facebook is still the top source for consumers to receive nutritional information, followed by blogs and Instagram, with celebrities and friends/family remaining the top sources from whom consumers receive such misinformation.

With 1,342 registered RDNs taking part, the annual survey reveals what they predict consumers are thinking and eating.

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