Top Nutrition Trends for 2021
The past year has affected people’s lives in unimaginable ways. At Revolution Foods, we saw firsthand the impact that healthy meals have on the communities we serve. Amidst the loss and uncertainty of the pandemic, a silver lining can be found in the renewed attention to the role that health and nutrition play in protecting us from diseases and improving our overall wellness. Our head of nutrition & compliance, Kim Doyle, has identified the top 2021 food and nutrition trends to follow this year to optimize your health.
Reducing Added Sugars:
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugars to less than 10% of a person’s daily calories or approximately 12 teaspoons of sugar a day for a 2000 calorie diet. Added sugars are a problem because they are empty calories that don’t contribute to any essential nutrients in your diet and make it hard to get the nutrients you need. To put this in perspective, just one can of soda, one prepared muffin, or one flavored coffee drink have approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar each or almost an entire day’s worth of recommended sugar level!
Added sugars are most frequently found in sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas and sports drinks, grain-based desserts, and sugar-sweetened cereals. To reduce added sugars in your diet, turn to water or tea to hydrate, serve fresh fruit in place of sweets, and use the nutrition facts panels on the back of prepared items to choose items free of or lower in added sugar.
Revolution Foods has been limiting the amount of added sugar in our meals since 2012! Sugar wasn’t included in the 2010 overhaul of the National School Lunch Program, called the Healthy Hungry Free Kids Act. In response to this omission, Revolution Foods implemented a sugar limit to restrict the amount of sugar in grain-based items and flavored milk. Additionally, the menu frequency of these items was limited to ensure kids weren’t getting excessive amount of sugar with their meals. A study on added sugar in the school nutrition programs was just released that included these types of restrictions be implemented by the USDA to help decrease the number of sugars in school meals.
Foods that help support the immune system: It is no surprise that foods that help promote a strong immune response are predicted to be in hot demand. Our immune system protects our bodies from harmful substances, germs, and viruses. Diet plays an important part in making sure our immune system has the right “pieces” to keep it operating smoothly.
An immune-supporting diet is following a healthy diet pattern which includes eating a variety of fresh, nutrient-dense foods like lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits to get the building blocks required for our immune system to do its job. When planning meals, follow the USDA My Plate recommendations of having half of your plate be filled with vegetables and fruits. A few examples of foods that are regarded as being important for a healthy immune system include:
- Foods rich in Vitamin C: Most people think of citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, tangerines or lemons as foods that are high in Vitamin C, but vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers are great sources as well.
- Foods rich in Vitamin A: Great sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and apricots.
- Mushrooms: All mushrooms help support a strong immune system but shitake, reishi, and maitake are considered the best sources.
- Ginger:If you don’t use ginger regularly, making tea is a very quick and easy way to add it to your diet. Just boil water and pour into a cup with juice from ½ lemon, 1” piece of ginger sliced and steep for 5 – 10 minutes. Remove ginger and add honey to taste.
- Garlic- To get maximum nutrition benefit from garlic, press or cut garlic and let sit for 5-10 minutes before using.
Meals served in child nutrition programs are required to follow meal patterns containing minimum portions of grains, proteins, vegetables, fruit, and milk. Revolution Foods meals are served with ½ - 1 cups of fruit and 1/2 – 1 1/4 cups vegetables which follows the USDA recommendations.
- Anti-Inflammatory foods: Inflammation is a normal response that our bodies have to help protect us from injury and defend against foreign invaders. Diseases associated with chronic inflammation include heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. There isn’t an easy way to check for inflammation in our bodies but eating a diet rich in foods thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body is a good first step.
At Revolution Foods, we have nutrition education activities for students that encourage kids to “eat a rainbow” every day. This advice applies to all ages and not just kids. The pigments in food that give them the bright, rainbow colors are called phytonutrients. These plant compounds go beyond what vitamins, minerals and macronutrients do in our bodies and can support reducing inflammation in the body.
Here are some examples of vibrant foods from each of the color groups.
- Red: Red peppers, strawberries, kidney beans, red quinoa
- Yellow/Orange: Corn, pineapple, garbanzo beans, jackfruit, Sweet potatoes, carrots, turmeric, pumpkin
- Green: Broccoli, grapes, edamame, cilantro
- Blue/Purple: Blueberries, plums, cherries, eggplant
- White: Garlic, onions, jicama, pears, oats
- Tan: Brown rice, mushrooms, nuts, nut butters
- Black: Black beans, rice, lentils, olives, tea
We hope that you can utilize these trends and join us in celebrating National Nutrition Month by participating in the VegOut! Challenge: an easy, delicious food adventure created by Recipe for Success Foundation to encourage children and adults to increase their regular intake of fresh vegetables. The challenge is simple - eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days - and anyone can participate!