Do Dietitians Agree with These 10 Predicted Trends in 2024? We Find Out
We are no stranger to new diet trends popping up every year, but next year we may actually have some trends that dietitians can get behind. Whole Foods Market puts out a trend report every year based on their predictions according to what they’re seeing in the store as new brands emerge on the scene.
This year, we’re seeing some strong themes around plant-based eating, up-cycling ingredients, environmentally friendly brands, and functional ingredients that consumers are loving right now. We spoke to dietitian and nutrition experts to find out exactly which trends they agree with — or not! — for 2024.
1. Put the “plant” back in “plant-based”
Wild plant-based eating has been on the rise for years, one trend we expect to see in 2024 is consumers pushing back for high-quality ingredients. For example, a plant-based product that still has tons of additives and foreign ingredients doesn’t seem to be measuring up when compared to options that are higher quality with fewer ingredients on the label.
With more concerns about the potential health impacts of highly processed food, 2024 will likely bring renewed interest in whole-food plant-based protein sources, says Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD of Street Smart Nutrition. “Legumes and pulses should be top of mind for their lower environmental impact and affordable cost. Mushrooms were a top-trending food last year thanks to their umami-rich flavor and versatility in vegan recipes, so expect this to continue. Walnuts offer plant-based ALA fats, fiber, and flavor that can be transformed into satisfying dishes,” she comments.
2. Use the whole cacao
One example of upcycling, the process of taking food waste and turning it into more edible options, is using the whole cacao. Cacao is actually quite a large product that we end up using a very small amount of in our food industry. There is a medium inside, a crunchy outer layer, and a rich chocolate-y center.
Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT of One Pot Wellness shares her insight: “The second trend involves products that use the whole cacao fruit. Typically cacao nibs are used to make chocolate and the rest of the fruit is tossed, including by-products like cacao pulp, which is generally disregarded during processing. Blue Stripes is a brand that takes the cacao pulp, which is slightly sweet and juicy, and turns it into cacao water and dried cacao snacks.”
3. Buckle up for buckwheat
Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free and also seems to have a positive environmental effect through farming. It’s also a plant-based source of protein and fiber, so it is a superstar in multiple trending categories for next year.
Kristy Del Coro, MS, RDN, LDN, Culinary Nutritionist shares that she is loving this trend. “Buckwheat is one of the world’s first domesticated crops and has been a staple of diets across the world for hundreds of years, such as in Japanese soba noodles and Ukrainian kasha. Yet somehow it has not been as commonplace in American diets. Plus, it has added benefits as a prebiotic to help increase beneficial gut bacteria. I would love to see an increased demand and usage of this climate friendly and climate resilient crop here in the U.S. and hope it is a trend that is here to stay,” she says.
4. Fancy faux fish
Taking plant-based living to the next level, faux fish is on the rise. From tinned options, to sushi, to caviar, we are seeing new brands pop up all over the place in this category.
Within the past year, we have seen trends on social media that fall into this category, such as watermelon tuna, acknowledges Raelyn Snyder, RD of Live Like Enough Nutrition. While I do think that we will continue to see brands experiment with this concept, I don’t foresee it being a top trend for the year, she comments.
I can’t get behind this one if you’re not vegan, says Sydnee Mostek, MS, RDN, ACSM-EP, EIM with a slightly different take. “Fish is such a nutritious addition to most any diet. If the intent is to match the flavor and texture, then eat fish to get protein and omega-3 fatty acids that you can’t get from carrots and mushrooms, and enjoy your veggies on the side,” she shares.
5. Clean & conserve water stewardship
Water stewardship is on the rise as brands have gotten heat for wasting water and thus affecting the quality of soil health. One industry that is notorious for water waste is the beer industry. Some farmers like XX are using water waste to grow fruits and veggies on their property and ultimately improve soil health while they’re at it.
Brands like Lundberg Family Farms Regenerative Organic Certified Basmati Rice or SIMPLi Regenerative Organic Certified Gigante Beans are leading the trend of regenerative agriculture, a Regenerative Organic Certification also requires soil health initiatives that ultimately conserve water.
6. Complex heat
More than just chili crisp, we are seeing complex heat added to a variety of brands and products that you might not expect. From kombucha to sauces and olive oil, we expect to see more of this in 2024.
I am also really excited about this potential trend and do think we will see it continue to grow in 2024, says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Board Certified Sports Dietitian, located in Miami, Florida. “A few months ago, I saw a cookie recipe that used gochujang, which is a Korean spicy sweet sauce, so I’m excited to see how else this trend continues to emerge. I think it’s a great way to also shake things up in the kitchen, especially if you feel like you eat the same thing everyday, incorporating different or new ‘heats’ into your dishes can be a game changer,” Ehsani tells us.
7. Noodle news
Ramen is trending, but next year we’re gonna take it once up further to include all noodles. You might even see more options for grab and go, single serving which ties into the next trend.
“I love that more ‘gourmet’ flavorful noodles are becoming more accessible. Trending noodle kits offer a convenient way to consume a tasty meal that can also be a great way to consume more vegetables and some lean protein along with it,” Del Coro shares.
She continues to point to new research that shows the positive health benefits of MSG: “Most of these noodle kits are very high in sodium and using MSG (or Monosodium glutamate) is actually a great way to reduce the sodium as MSG contains two-thirds of the sodium of table salt and can impart the signature umami flavor we love in noodles. Although it has a reputation of being an unhealthy ingredient, research shows that MSG is actually not an additive that needs to be avoided.”
8. Little luxuries
Petite treats are not only fun and satisfying, but they’re already trending on TikTok. There’s nothing like finishing off a meal with a tiny bite of something delicious, and we are going to be seeing this more and more as brands rollout single size serving options.
Self-care is here to stay, little luxuries included, says Chelsea Newbrough, RDN and founder of The Candid Carrot. “I love this trend because historically, we’re more focused on what we need to cut out of our lives to make it better. It is time we look at what we can add to our day to kindle a little joy! Little treat culture is a really accessible way for people to be more intentional with their day. The actions might be quick and cheap, but the positive impact on well-being can be huge,” she recommends.
9. Women’s health: From taboo to top of mind
Hormone health is more popular than ever as women are paying attention to their cycles and learning about what they can do to support them. From supplements to functional ingredients, you will likely see more hormone focused products over the next year.
In the year defined by the Barbie movie, Taylor Swift, and Beyonce, the buying power and experience of women have been front and center, Snyder begins. “I definitely agree that this trend will continue well into 2024. Many women are becoming interested in exploring hormonal health and optimizing their health through nutrition and lifestyle changes and brands would benefit from supporting the interests of potentially their largest market sector,” she adds.
Mostek offers her perspective: “It’s a new enough idea that it’s hard to know whether specific food items can have much effect on a woman’s hormone balance, but the foods are generally nourishing anyway, so as long as it’s not cost-prohibitive, it can’t hurt to try new things. Just watch out for the price tag.”
10. A better boost
In addition to added caffeine, brands are adding functional ingredients like adaptogenic mushrooms, L-theanine, and more to balance out the jitters with a more stable feeling of energy.
I find it fascinating to see all of the alternatives to coffee or caffeine products, Jenn Baswick, RD, MHSc, Registered Dietitian, Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor, and owner of The Intuitive Nutritionist shares. Although, she cautions: “Some individuals may experience negative side effects of traditional caffeine products like more anxiety, potential afternoon crashes, and more. Expanding the market to provide alternative options for individuals helps them to find what works best for them and their bodies. At the same time, there’s nothing “bad” about enjoying your standard cup of coffee or latte. I’m all for people experimenting with what makes them feel their best!”