Ancient food ingredients winning over modern wellness seekers

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Fish may have been even more popular with the ancients if they possessed knowledge of omega-3s
Fish may have been even more popular with the ancients if they possessed knowledge of omega-3s
Americans interested in preventing disease and boosting their wellness are increasingly using ancient foods like omega-3 rich hemp, ayurverdic herbs, fermented herbs and grains, according to a new report.

The Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and market research publisher Packaged Facts said experimental, make-it-up-as-you go consumers were looking back through the ages to locate whole foods and healthy nutrients that could be incorporated into their health-conscious diets.

“Consumers are more engaged than ever trying out new foods and diets in hopes of curing what ails them or preventing ailments to which they are susceptible,”​ the report states.

“Consumers’ participation in uncovering and treating various conditions with food is part of this era’s DIY-care mentality. Hobbled with healthcare issues and economic woes, while simultaneously emboldened by innumerable Internet pages and a growing understanding and acceptance of alternative medical systems — Traditional Chinese Medicine with its acupuncture, holistic medicine and its tinctures, naturopathy and even yoga — consumers have never had more motivation or ammunition for finding new cures themselves, especially diet-related ones.”

Culinary Trend Mapping

In its latest Culinary Trend Mapping Report, CCD highlights seven wellness ingredient trends it locates at one of five separate stages on their way to mainstream acceptance.

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)​ is the closest to broad mainstream acceptance (stage 5 – seen on popular grocery store shelves)), whether sourced from a biblical source like fish, or increasingly as a nutrient being utilized by, “CPG manufacturers looking to entice consumers on the lookout for functional foods that benefit the brain.”

Omega-3 ​gets another mention via Grass-fed meat and dairy ​which is gaining popularity due to its hormone-free status and omega-3 boosted levels due to the grass feeding. Grass-fed Meat & Dairy (stage 3 – seen in mainstream chain restaurants and smaller grocers), possess an impressive health halo as well as an improved reputation for taste. It also feeds into consumers’ desires for more authentically good-for-you products, those our ancestors relied on.”

Also at stage three is agave nectar, ​gaining in popularity as a natural sweetener. “A syrup that can be easily added to products ranging from beverages to baked goods to sauces, agave nectar fits with consumer desires for a more healthful plant-based sweetener; its low glycemic-index is a plus as is its heritage in Mexican cuisine.”

Hemp, fermented foods​ and sprouted foods ​are all stage 2 food trends meaning they feature in some specialty stores and magazines. Hemp is touted for its omega-3 and omega-6 levels, while rice, wheat and other grains and nuts are being used, “as a base for wholesome grain goods that offer more nutrition and are more digestible than similar products made without sprouted grains.”

Miso, kasu, tempeh and pu-erh tea are fermented foods CCD observes, “have been trusted in Asia for their healthful properties and may soon follow in the footsteps of successful specialty fermented products like kombucha as consumers seek out foods that are less processed and more nutrient-rich.”

Healing spices ​like​holy basil and turmeric are at stage 1 (appears in upmarket, ethnic and independent restaurants) but are increasingly being incorporated into, “teas, nut butters and energy bars.”

“American consumers are more engaged than ever in managing their health through food in hopes of curing what ails them or preventing ailments to which they are susceptible,”​ said Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD. “Many of these curative foods have roots in ancient times, and have been consumed by cultures around the world for centuries.”

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1 comment

Really? Fish is ancient and biblical?

Posted by George,

Really? Fish is ancient and biblical? Meat too? Who could have guessed?
Well, for Ms Egan's information all the foods we eat are ancient, so what?

I do not understand what CCD is trying to prove. Their "market research" means nothing and comes to no conclusions - certainly no "ancient" or "biblical" food conclusions, because all plants and animal have an ancient origin.

What this article says is that people who visit health food stores and/or care about their health try ethnic foods (like thai, indian or chinese foods) and/or healthy foods (like fish, sprouted food or grass fed meat). Which is no big news to anyone, certainly the industry.

But stating that fish, meat, miso, curry (turmeric) and sprouts are "ancient" or biblical is void of any meaning and insults people's intelligence.

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