Survey Findings Show Consumers Go with their Gut in the Grocery Aisles

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National Survey of more than 2,000 Dietitians Reveals Movement Toward Clean, Natural and Simple with Surprising Predictions for Superfoods in 2018

In its sixth year, with a record-breaking 2,050 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) responding, the Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian’s “What’s Trending in Nutrition” national survey once again exposes what RDNs predict consumers are thinking and eating. In a surprising switch, fermented foods – like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, some pickles, kimchi and miso – ousted seeds as the No. 1 superfood for 2018, making it clear that consumers will be “going with their gut” in the coming year by seeking out foods that improve gut health and overall well-being.

“RDNs stay ahead of the trends because they are dedicated to listening and responding to what consumers are looking for when making food choices,” explains Mara Honicker, publisher of Today’s Dietitian. “Our readers stay current on what consumers are thinking as much as they do nutritional science.”

Top 10 Superfoods for 2018

What’s changed for next year is the rise of “fermented foods” to the top spot. Surprising, but true, RDNs predict fermented foods will be highly sought by consumers in 2018. While widely known as the process used for making wine or beer, fermentation is a natural, metabolic process that involves using sugar to create compounds like organic acids, alcohols and gases. Fermented foods may have powerful health benefits from boosting gut health to blunting inflammation. The rest of the rankings included:

  1. Fermented foods, like yogurt
  2. Avocado
  3. Seeds
  4. Nuts
  5. Green tea
  6. Ancient grains
  7. Kale
  8. Exotic fruits
  9. Coconut products
  10. Salmon

The Future is Here

In 2012, “What’s Trending in Nutrition”predicted that consumers would move toward “natural, less processed foods” (according to 72% of respondents). This national sample of RDNs forecasted that consumers were trending toward “simple ingredients” and a greater focus on “plants.” Move forward to today, and their projections have come to fruition as top diets for 2018. Coined, “clean eating” and “plant-based diets,” consumers are demanding foods and products that fit this way of life.

Diets Over Time

After “clean eating” and “plant-based diets,” first-timer, the “ketogenic diet” has made its way to the top as No. 3. This high-fat, generous-protein, barely-any-carb diet designed to produce ketone bodies for energy debuted with a high ranking. Interestingly, in 2013, RDNs felt that the trend in the “low carb diet” had declined. Then a year later, there was a rise in Paleo, Wheat Belly and Gluten-Free. Now, RDNs rank “Wheat Belly” as one of the diets on its way out and ketogenic has overtaken Paleo. Given the popularity of the high-fat ketogenic diet, it makes sense that the “low fat” diet was also ranked as a has-been.

“The movement toward clean eating reflects a change in how consumers view food,” notes Jenna A. Bell, PhD, RD, SVP of Pollock Communications. “Consumers are searching for nutrition information and equating diet with overall well-being.” As an example, Bell points out that the quick rise of fermented foods in the top 10 superfood list shows that consumers have expanded their definition of wellness to include benefits like gut health. “It also suggests that consumers are digging deeper for information about the food they eat and in this instance, finding out why yogurt, kefir or kimchi is so good for them!”

Fake News?

Over the years, the “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey has captured the RDN perspective on where, how and from whom, consumers are getting their nutrition advice – good and bad. Since 2013, RDNs have acknowledged the power of social media, blogs, websites and celebs on nutrition decisions and the dissemination of misinformation. In 2014, celebrity doctors made their mark in the minds of consumers and RDNs ranked them as a growing provider of nutrition info. In the upcoming year, RDNs take aim and name Facebook as the No. 1 source of nutrition misinformation for consumers, followed by websites and blogs/vlogs.

Through the Years, We All Will Be Together

RDNs continue to recognize that consumers rank taste, cost, convenience and healthfulness as most important in the supermarket. And, the RDN messages remain consistent: MyPlate is the gold standard for helping consumers eat right (79% use it to educate) and it’s best to make small changes, focus on the overall eating pattern (not a single food or nutrient) and make gradual shifts over time. The RDNs top recommendations for 2018 are to limit highly processed foods, increase fiber intake, keep a food journal and choose non-caloric beverages such as unsweetened tea or coffee.

“The annual forecast from the ‘What’s Trending in Nutrition’ national survey shows how consumers are driving change and leading the evolution of diet and nutrition trends,” explains Louise Pollock, President and founder of Pollock Communications. “As they do each year, the unique perspective of RDNs provides media, retailers and food manufacturers a view into the minds of consumers that can help inform their business.”

Source: Pollock Communications

Italian Antipasti with Toast and Tomato


4 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
6 garlic cloves, minced
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper
16 (1/2-inch-thick) slices good-quality Italian bread, preferably cut from a long loaf


  1. Preheat oven to 200°F, with racks in upper and lower thirds.
  2. Put tomatoes, cut sides up, on two large baking sheets.
  3. Combine garlic and 5 tablespoons oil and spoon over tomatoes. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper and roast in oven, switching position of sheets halfway through roasting, 6 to 8 hours (tomatoes will shrink but retain their shape). Cool tomatoes.
  4. Increase oven to 350°F.
  5. Arrange bread in one layer on two large baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through, until golden and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Brush toasts with remaining 3 tablespoons oil and top with 2 to 3 roasted tomato halves.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Gourmet Italian

In Pictures: Finger Food

World Health Organization Recommends Eating Less Saturated and Trans Fats to Curb Heart Disease

Stephanie Nebehay wrote . . . . . . . . .

Adults and children should consume a maximum of 10 percent of their daily calories in the form of saturated fat such as meat and butter and one percent from trans fats to reduce the risk of heart disease, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

The draft recommendations, the first since 2002, are aimed at reducing non-communicable diseases, led by cardiovascular diseases, blamed for 72 percent of the 54.7 million estimated deaths worldwide every year, many before the age of 70.

“Dietary saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids are of particular concern because high levels of intake are correlated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases,” Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, told reporters.

The dietary recommendations are based on scientific evidence developed in the last 15 years, he added.

The United Nations agency has invited public comments until June 1 on the recommendations, which it expects to finalize by year-end.

Saturated fat is found in foods from animal sources such as butter, cow’s milk, meat, salmon and egg yolks, and in some plant-derived products such as chocolate, cocoa butter, coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.

An active adult needs about 2,500 calories per day, Branca said.

“So we are talking about 250 calories coming from saturated fat and that is approximately a bit less than 30 grams of saturated fat,” he said.

That amount of fat could be found in 50 grams (1.76 oz) of butter, 130-150 grams of cheese with 30 percent fat, a liter of full fat milk, or in 50 grams of palm oil, he said.

Trans Fats

Trans fats occur naturally in meat and dairy products. But the predominant source is industrially-produced and contained in baked and fried foods such as fries and doughnuts, snacks, and partially hydrogenated cooking oils and fats often used by restaurants and street vendors.

In explicit new advice, WHO said that excessive amounts of saturated fat and trans fat should be replaced by polyunsaturated fats, such as fish, canola and olive oils.

“Reduced intake of saturated fatty acids have been associated with a significant reduction in risk of coronary heart disease when replaced with polyunsaturated fatty acids or carbohydrates from whole grains,” it said.

Total fat consumption should not exceed 30 percent of total energy intake to avoid unhealthy weight gain, it added.

The recommendations complement other WHO guidelines including limiting intake of free sugars and sodium.

Source: Reuters

Read also at WHO:

Draft guidelines on saturated fatty acid and trans-fatty acid intake for adults and children
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There’s Not Much Science-based Evidence That Vitamins Do Any Good to Your Health

Faye Flam wrote . . . . . . . .

Proponents of science-based medicine are fond of saying that there’s a name for alternative treatments that pass scientific tests: medicine. But what they don’t mention are those parts of long-established medicine that get demoted to “alternative” status — or should be.

For years, doctors pestered me — and apparently many other people — to take a daily multivitamin and a calcium supplement. There was nothing wrong with me; doctors said it was a kind of insurance. The calcium was to protect against fractures, and the multivitamin … well, the doctors were never too clear on that, but they were adamant.

And now, Kaiser Health News is reporting that most older Americans are “hooked” on vitamins. The story, which ran in the New York Times, detailed a litany of scientific studies showing vitamin supplements either failed to deliver benefits or caused harm. Experts quoted in the story presented all this as if consumers were buying into some egregious form of pseudoscientific quackery — as if this were never part of established medicine.

Paul Offit, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, included vitamins alongside homeopathy and “energy healing” in his book on quack medicine, “Do You Believe in Magic?”. He notes that indeed, the medical establishment did once assume everyone should take vitamins, and universally recommending them has been a hard habit for the doctors to break.

The benefit of supplemental vitamins for healthy people was, he said, based more on assumptions than data, as are many other common practices in medicine. And even as 21st-century medicine advances at lightning speed, with precision genetic testing, immunotherapy and robotic surgeries, it can slow to a crawl in discarding outdated practices. Doctors were slow to stop pushing low-fat diets, Offit said, and are still reluctant to acknowledge data pointing to the downsides of the standard mass screenings for prostate and breast cancers. The notion that people should take antibiotics long after they feel better was never based on testing, he said. That’s now being called into question.

Unlike many forms of alternative medicine, vitamins can have real benefits for some people. It was a giant leap for public health when scientists discovered that foods contained essential trace compounds — named vitamins in 1912. For the first time, doctors understood why people got sick from an unbalanced diet even if they consumed enough calories to keep from starving. There’s no doubt early sailors and explorers living on nothing but hardtack would have done much better with a few bottles of One-A-Day in the hold.

Now many foods are already fortified with vitamins, and it’s rare for people without unusual health conditions to have vitamin deficiencies, even if they eat a less-than-perfect diet. But somewhere around the 1980s, doctors became soured on food as a source of nutrition. We were told it was unsafe to eat fat of any kind, or anything with salt. We were supposed to avoid shrimp, shellfish, nuts, eggs and cheese. Vegetables were still on the list of acceptable foods, but they were pretty grim fare when cooked with no oil, butter or salt.

And then there was the demonization of calories, which are a measure of energy — of how much food is in food. While calorie counts can be useful in protecting us from massive portions of low-quality food, some experts have said the whole obsession with calorie counting is premised on the notion that food is bad. Vitamins, meanwhile, are for the most part calorie-free and fat-free, and doctors assumed they couldn’t be harmful.

Gradually, scientific studies started to show that food was not nearly as dangerous as thought, and that vitamin and mineral supplements could do harm. There was data showing that calcium supplements did not decrease the risk of fracture and might increase the risk of kidney stones. A large-population study found that less than 3 percent of subjects were deemed deficient in iron, but around 13 percent had levels that were dangerously high.

In other studies, vitamin A supplements increased the risk of death among lung cancer patients, and vitamin E increased deaths among people with prostate cancer. These were doses higher than what’s in multivitamins, but low enough that scientists assumed they were safe. Here’s one of the doctors quoted in the recent Kaiser Health News piece:

“Vitamins are not inert,” said Dr. Eric Klein, a prostate cancer expert at the Cleveland Clinic who led the vitamin E study. “They are biologically active agents. We have to think of them in the same way as drugs.”

Considering that larger doses of certain vitamins can cause harm, isn’t the safest course of action to eat some spinach and avoid the pills? Back in 2008, physician Harriet Hall posed the same question regarding her own use of vitamins in a post for the blog Science-Based Medicine. She wrote that she considered her past use of multivitamins “irrational,” and that she continues to take calcium and vitamin D to address a problem, but has dropped the daily multivitamins. She told me she still agrees with what she wrote back then:

There are two philosophies: to take everything that is suggested just in case, or to wait for scientific validation before taking anything. Based on long experience, I consider the latter course more reasonable. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard strong recommendations for something that was later shown to be useless or harmful.

Perhaps the enthusiasm for vitamins was also a product of that techno-optimism that was such a part of 20th-century culture. We were in the space age, and soon food would be replaced with technologically superior substances. But food is back in vogue, and finally, doctors are recommending people get their vitamins by eating it. If doctors are now concerned that too many people are hooked on vitamin pills, they might want to admit they were wrong.

Source : Bloomberg

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