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Everything You Need to Know About 11 New Food Trends

author image Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.
Julie Upton is co-founder of Appetite for Health and is a certified sports dietitian who has been writing since 1994. She is a nationally recognized journalist who has contributed to "The New York Times," "Shape" and "Men's Health." Upton is also the coauthor of "The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health's 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions." She holds a Master of Science in nutrition communications.

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Everything You Need to Know About 11 New Food Trends
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Whether you’re on social media, catching up with friends or reading the latest issue of your favorite health and fitness magazine, the chances of trendy “health” foods becoming the topic of conversation are pretty solid. Anecdotal stories and sources that lack "street cred" can cloud the truths regarding the benefits of these foods making it difficult to understand what’s what. Here are 11 new and unusual food trends that are actually worth the hype. We break down the reasons why you should give these trends a chance.

1. Crickets
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1 Crickets

Are crickets the new kale? Totally -- according to the marketers of cricket flour and cricket bars. Crickets are poised to become the new gluten-free and eco-friendly superfood. They’re touted as the future of sustainable high-quality protein. According to Iowa State University, a 3.5-ounce serving of crickets has 13 grams of protein, 5.5 grams of fat, five grams of carbohydrates, 76 milligrams of calcium and 9.5 milligrams of iron. The same serving size of beef, poultry or fish would have 25 to 30 grams of protein, but with a fraction of the energy inputs and environmental impact of animal-based protein. Currently, brands like Chapul and Exo use dates, nuts, honey or other sweeteners and combine them with cricket flour to make their protein bars in many flavors, such as Cacao Nut or Peanut Butter & Jelly. But watch out -- the bars contain about twice as much sugar as they do protein.

Related: 13 Surprising Vegetarian Sources of Protein

2. Dandelion Greens
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2 Dandelion Greens

The pesky plant in your yard you call a “weed” is actually a nutrient-packed salad green that’s for sale at farmers markets and natural-foods retailers. The greens are even cropping up on the menus of top chefs. The trendy spring salad green is rich in vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytonutrients. They also have just 25 calories and three grams fiber per cup and contain calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. If you’re intimidated by the thought of cooking with dandelion greens, don’t be. They’re easy to use and will leave your guests impressed and satisfied. Use on salads, top sandwiches or simply saute them for an easy side dish. They’re great braised, or your can add fresh chopped leaves to any grain or pilaf dish.

Related: 23 Healthy Salads Nutrition Experts Eat

3. Matcha
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3 Matcha

Haven’t heard of matcha? Here’s what you need to know. This finely milled green tea powder is a key component of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, and its use dates back thousands of years. Today, matcha has made quite a splash in the health arena, mainly due to its powerful antioxidants. Matcha can be added to smoothies and batters to amp up the nutritional profile of your favorite beverages and baked goods. But beware of many commercial beverages and smoothies made with matcha as some have more added sugar than sodas, and many aren’t made with high-quality matcha. Research shows that the concentration of a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in matcha is at least three times higher than the amount available from other green teas. While further research is needed, some studies indicate that EGCG may help fight certain cancers and cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

Related: Sign Up to Receive the FREE LIVESTRONG.COM Weekly Health and Fitness Newsletter

4. Cashew and Camel Milk
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4 Cashew and Camel Milk

If you’re lactose intolerant, have no fear: Milk alternatives can be found everywhere and are becoming quite popular. While soymilk and almond milk were once the trending milk alternatives, now new nut milks are taking center stage -- like cashew milk. It’s creamier than skim milk (thanks to its higher fat content), but has just 60 calories per serving (compared with 90 in skim milk). However, cashew milk has less than a gram of protein. Camel milk is also becoming more widely available, has been prized by nomads for centuries and is great for those who are allergic to cow milk. Camel milk has about 100 calories per eight-ounce serving and five grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fat and eight grams of natural sugars. It is also naturally high in calcium like cow milk. For food safety, pasteurized products are recommended, but raw camel milk is also available.

Related: Which Kind of Milk (or Nondairy Milk) Is Best?

5. Grain-Free Granola
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5 Grain-Free Granola

If this sounds like an oxymoron, you’re correct: The main ingredient in traditional granola is oats. But for the growing number of consumers opting to avoid grains, there are several new grain-free granolas now available online and in some natural-foods stores. A typical recipe consists of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, unsweetened coconut and sometimes a touch of natural sweetener. For those who are gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant, the elimination of wheat products and other related grains might help reduce chronic inflammation and temper certain autoimmune diseases.

Related: 10 Best New Gluten-Free Foods

6. Chia
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6 Chia

Chia seeds are cropping up in all kinds of foods these days, including tortilla chips, Greek yogurt, cereal and even peanut butter. Unlike larger seeds like flax, chia seeds are completely digestible in whole form, so you don’t need to spend time grinding them to fully digest and absorb the beneficial nutrients. The best part about chia seeds is their ability to make you feel fuller longer. The seeds absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel that helps turn on the hormones that keep you full. In fact, just one ounce of these seeds provides nearly 10 grams of filling fiber and a little over 4.5 grams of hunger-squashing protein, so it serves as a terrific addition to your favorite foods. Incorporate this trendy protein into oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast, add to a smoothie, use it to make a pudding or add it to baked goods.

Related: 10 Ways to Get the Health Benefits of Chia Seeds in Your Diet

7. Kamut
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7 Kamut

Step aside quinoa, another ancient grain, kamut, is quickly rising in popularity. This wheat-based grain is rich in important vitamins and minerals, specifically selenium, zinc and magnesium. One cup packs close to 10 grams of protein and is low in fat and cholesterol, making it a healthy addition to any diet. Studies show that consuming this superfood is associated with substantial reductions in metabolic risk factors, thus helping to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and also serving to ease inflammation. With a firm texture and rich, nutty flavor, kamut makes for a great addition to pilafs, soups and cold salads.

Related: 13 Powerful Grains and Seeds

8. Ghee
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8 Ghee

Ghee is also referred to as clarified butter and is traditionally used in Indian cuisine. In fact, in ancient India, ghee was considered the preferred cooking fat. And, unlike regular butter, there is no milk protein in ghee, which is great news for those who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy. While ghee has been scrutinized for its high content of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, the latest research shows that moderate consumption of ghee is perfectly safe, and findings in the literature support the beneficial effects of ghee, as initially outlined in the ancient Ayurvedic texts. What exactly are those Ayurvedic healing properties? First, ghee is rich in butyrate, which has been shown to decrease inflammation and help improve the digestive system. You can use ghee in place of butter in any of butter’s traditional uses. Due to its high smoke point and great flavor, ghee is perfect for sauteeing or making sauces.

Related: Sign Up to Receive the FREE LIVESTRONG.COM Weekly Health and Fitness Newsletter

9. Sorghum
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9 Sorghum

Did you know that the antioxidant-rich cereal grain sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world? Given its natural drought tolerance and versatility as food, feed and fuel, sorghum is quickly rising in popularity. Furthermore, individuals following a gluten-free diet will be pleased to know that sorghum is entirely gluten-free, and studies show that it is completely safe for anyone who suffers from celiac disease. Sorghum contains plant sterols, which may help to manage cholesterol levels. As an added bonus, sorghum is also rich in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure and maintains healthy bones. Sorghum can be popped like popcorn in the microwave or on the stovetop, incorporated into a soup or salad or added to a pilaf dish.

Related: Sign Up to Receive the FREE LIVESTRONG.COM Weekly Health and Fitness Newsletter

10. Jerky
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10 Jerky

Jerky is a great on-the-go protein. A “jerky” is technically considered a lean meat that has been trimmed of fat, cut into strips and then dried to prevent spoilage. Most commonly available in turkey and beef varieties, a typical one-ounce serving of jerky is a little over 100 calories and contains a whopping 9.5 grams of protein. Jerky has one of the best protein-to-calorie ratios of any food. You’ll want to stay away from those varieties of jerky that are packed with high-sodium ingredients, so be sure to check labels carefully and to look for those with lower sodium counts. Many jerky brands also have added sugars, so read the ingredient list and check sugars on the nutrition facts panel. While jerky is most commonly enjoyed as a snack, you can also experiment with fun marinades and seasonings.

Related: Jerky and 19 Other Healthy Summertime Snacks

11. Bone Broth
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11 Bone Broth

By now you’ve heard all about bone broth, but maybe you haven’t had a chance to try it or don’t really know what’s in it? Here’s the bone broth basics: It’s made from meat or poultry bones that are sometimes roasted first, combined with water, vinegar and spices and simmered at low heat for up to 24 hours. Once thoroughly cooked, all of the solids are removed and the liquid is strained to become bone broth. If you don’t have 15 hours to spend making your own bone broth, try the organic and GMO-free chicken or turkey bone broths from Pacific Foods. The broths have nine grams of high-quality protein (traditional chicken broth has just 1.5 grams protein) and 35 to 40 calories per cup. They also come in great flavors like Organic Chicken With Lemongrass.

Related: Food Safety Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

What Do YOU Think?
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What Do YOU Think?

Have you tried any of these new trendy health foods? What did you think? Are there any foods that you think should have made the list that didn’t? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Related: 20 Foods to Always Buy Organic

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