Natural Health Food Trends for 2017

(NC) One of the most popular New Year's resolutions is to live a healthier lifestyle, which can include reevaluating the foods you eat. With this in mind, check out the top five natural health trends the Canadian Health Food Association says we'll be seeing this year.

1. Sprouting. Low in calories but high in digestible protein, vitamins and minerals, sprouts are great for adding to salads, soups and smoothies. By allowing the seeds to sprout, important nutrients naturally present are released, making it easier for our bodies to access and absorb them.

2. Plant-based dairy alternatives. Almond-, hemp-, soy- and coconut-based dairy alternatives have been around for years, but newcomers to the market include many other options made from flax seeds, hazelnuts and cashews. Low in calories with virtually no saturated fat or cholesterol, these alternatives are naturally lactose-free and provide healthy doses of vitamins A, D and E.

3. Digestive enzymes. For those looking to give their digestion a boost, digestive enzymes can help by breaking down food into nutrients the body can use. They also reduce bloating and gas production associated with indigestion, and decrease the likelihood of ulcers caused by acid buildup. While digestive enzymes can be found naturally in fruits like papayas and pineapples, you may also want to consider supplementation.

4. Mushrooms. Mushroom extracts pack many health benefits and can be found in a variety of forms. Lion's Mane supplements, for example, have been shown to improve the protective covering of nerve cells from damage relating to cognitive decline. Meanwhile, reishi tea releases beneficial carbohydrates and fibres that increase the production of white blood cells to fight invading bugs.

5. Smart carbs. Keep an eye out for smart carb options that promote more balanced energy levels, digestion and brain function. Options range from pasta made from lentils and legumes to low-fat bean chips and pea snacks. These healthier snacks will satisfy your crunchy craving without the risk of sugar spikes and crashes.

Find a local CHFA Member health food store near you and learn more about these foods online at chfa.ca.

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