Trendy Foods With Serious Health Benefits

2Agave
This sugar substitute is made from cacti, and is thought to be a healthy alternative to granulated sugar in baking. “Cup for cup, agave and table sugar are about equal in the calorie department, but because agave is about 1.5 times sweeter than table sugar, you can use less of it to reach the same sweetness,” says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist and owner of Essential Nutrition for You, a nutrition consulting firm. Agave’s main benefit, she says, is that it scores low on the glycemic index — between 15 and 30 compared with table sugar’s 65. “This means that consumption won’t result in dangerous spikes in blood sugar that table sugar so often causes, making it a possible safe alternative for diabetics,” says Batayneh.

If you’re trying to cut calories for weight loss, agave doesn’t offer much of a benefit, Batayneh says. Instead, stick to a zero-calorie sugar substitute like stevia, or better yet, skip refined sugar foods altogether.

Nondairy Milk
For the lactose-intolerant and those wanting to avoid all animal foods, rice milk, almond milk, and soy milk are becoming increasingly popular food trends for good nutrition. “More and more people are becoming sensitive to dairy products,” says Sally Kravich, MS, a natural health expert and consultant in New York City. “I recommend almond milk and rice milk to many of my clients. For those who have a sensitive digestive system, rice milk is best. For those who are vegans and need more protein and naturally occurring calcium, I recommend almond milk. I only recommend soy milk to women who need to boost their hormones or for older men with prostate issues.”

If you’re watching your sugar intake, try an unsweetened nondairy milk, as most brands have either no sugar or less sugar than naturally occurs in dairy milk. Plus, nondairy milks are often fortified with extra calcium or vitamin D.

Almond Butter
Almond butter is another almond-based food trend that has some advantages over conventional peanut butter. “I brought up my own children on almond butter,” Kravich says. “Almond butter is preferable over peanut butter as it contains more protein and less sugar than the peanut.”

Still, it’s important to eat nut butters in moderation, as most varieties are heavy in calories and fat.

The Paleo Diet: Sample Menu

5Breakfast: onion and spinach omelet with liver pâté
Lunch: tuna wrapped in lettuce with almonds
Snack: hard-boiled eggs
Dinner: beef bourguignon
Dessert: ice cream made from coconut milk

The Paleo Diet: Pros
By eating fruits and vegetables, you’ll get many of the essential vitamins and minerals you need.
The diet is simple. You eat the foods that are acceptable and avoid those that are not — there’s no prepacked meal plan or diet cycles to stick to.
The diet emphasizes exercise. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and can help you lose or maintain your weight.
The Paleo Diet: Cons
A hunter-gatherer diet can be difficult to maintain, especially long term. Because most foods are eaten plain, it can get boring after a short time.
It can be expensive — foods that are organically grown as well as grass-fed beef and other meats typically cost more.
There’s no scientific proof that the Paleo or hunter-gatherer diet wards off disease, Sandon says. Any evidence of its benefits is anecdotal.
The Paleo Diet: Short-Term and Long-Term Effects
You could lose weight following a Paleolithic diet — quickly, depending on how strictly you adhere to the foods from the allowed list and how much physical exercise you add to your daily routine.

Long term, you have to be sure you’re getting calcium and other nutrients you’re missing by not having dairy products and certain grains. Some Paleo-approved foods such as salmon and spinach contain calcium, so you have to be sure you’re including them in your diet.

“Nobody knows the long-term effects of this diet because no one has researched it to any degree,” Sandon says. It’s not really a new concept; instead it’s one that’s been recycled through the years, she adds.