Three overlooked “superfoods” rising in popularity thanks to innovative formats

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

3 overlooked superfoods rising in popularity with innovative formats

Related tags Avocado

Superfoods are no longer restricted to exotic and hard to find plants in under-developed countries. Rather, the latest batch comes from a little closer to home and likely already are in most US consumers’ pantries, according to a food trendologist.

“Some of the new super foods on the market are things that might not feel very new, but that are being put into new practice,”​ in ways that highlight their health benefits and versatility, Kara Nielsen said Sept. 28 during a Packaged Facts’ webinar that focused on natural and organic trends.

For example, she cited “healthful green foods,”​ such as algae, seaweed, spirulina and grass, as an outgrowth of the pressed-juice trend that offer “all sorts of great benefits, including good B vitamins, iron and different other minerals that support us.”

Amazing Grass’ Green Superfood is an example of how the green juice trend is transitioning into more chewable snacks that feature wheat and barley grasses along with spinach and alfalfa. The bars also tap into growing consumer interest in alkalizing foods that will balance the acidity in their main diets, Nielsen said.

She also pointed to the increasing use of seaweed in snacks, such as Mary’s Gone Crackers and Gimme Seaweed Chips. These are particularly popular among children, she noted.

Avocados climb higher

The mainstream appeal of avocados first became apparent when Avocados from Mexico featured the fruit in the first Super Bowl ad to focus on produce several years ago. Since then, their popularity has continued to climb.

“We see industry packaging avocados in ways that make them more convenient, and thus allow us to have this delicious and healthful oil in our diets in more frequent ways or when you can’t get your hands on a natural avocado,”​ Nielsen said.

For example, she pointed to Primal Kitchen’s paleo-centric salad dressings made with avocado oil and Kettle chips cooked in avocado oil. Closer to the whole food, but still convenient, are Hope Foods Organic Spicy Avocado Hummus, Wholly Guacamole Minis and Avoke Spoonable avocado smoothies in an oval-shaped bowl, she added.

Chickpeas take center stage

“The chickpea is just everywhere,”​ Nielsen said, adding: “This is a totally mainstream food that offers a lot of terrific plant-based protein,”​ but which is appearing in ever-more versatile products.

For example, she noted that chickpeas have appeared in snacks for several years as roasted, crunchy alternatives to nuts or the basis for sweets, such as blondies. But now they are taking on a more significant center-of-the-plate role in TaDah! Falafel Poppers that feature flavorful fillings, Banza’s protein-packed pasta and Vana Life chickpea-based frozen Indian meals.

“We are also seeing chickpeas do things like be crumbs,”​ as in the case of WatUsee Foods’ gluten-free chickpea “bread”​ crumbs, Nielsen added.

Finally, she added, “one of the biggest things in the chickpea world is this option of aqua faba,”​ which “is using chickpea cooking water that has a lot of this protein and benefits still in it to make vegan mayonnaise, confections and different kinds of meringues.”  

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