When certain health foods become super trendy, you start seeing them everywhere— at the grocery store, your favorite restaurants, on Instagram, and in different recipes. Sometimes, they’re even turned into pizza crust (we’re looking at you, cauliflower!). And sure, being the latest hot commodity is terrific, but it does make us wonder: Are these foods really good for you? Or is it all hype?
To help us answer this question, we speed-dialed Krista King, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified health coach at Composed Nutrition, and asked her to share 5 popular foods that do indeed live up to their allure in terms of health and nutritional benefits. Keep reading to learn what they are and why they deserve a spot in your kitchen.
Chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, are having a moment. The in-demand legumes are everywhere right now. King recommends popping them in the oven to create a crispy snack or buying them canned and ready to toss into a salad. There’s even chickpea pasta that’s a healthy alternative to traditional pasta. In terms of nutrition, chickpeas don’t disappoint. King says they’re high in protein and fiber, which supports blood sugar balance and promotes healthy digestion.
In case you’re not familiar, turmeric is a bright yellow spice that comes as a root similar to the ginger root and then gets turned into a powder. King recommends adding it to roasted veggies or making it into an Instagram-worthy latte with a milk of your choosing.
Most importantly, turmeric lives up to the buzz in terms of nutritional value. “The active compound in turmeric called curcumin accounts for its vibrant color and provides anti-inflammatory benefits,” King says. And if you want to take it up a notch, she suggests adding black pepper, which will help your body absorb more of the curcumin.
“The health benefits of collagen live up to the hype,” King says. “Collagen helps to promote healthy hair, skin and nails.** This is due to the amino acid profile. Amino acids are the single building blocks of proteins.”
Collagen, King adds, is also high in glutamine, glycine, and proline that support the body’s collagen production. “Glutamine, in particular, helps with promoting the health of the intestinal walls, which helps to support healthy digestion,” she says. “And glycine is essential for female fertility and pregnancy as it plays a role in the development of connective tissues.”
If stepping up your gut health is your goal, give kefir a try. “Kefir is a fermented beverage that is similar to yogurt, but is drinkable,” King says. “It’s a potent source of food-based probiotics, making it great to incorporate to promote a healthy gut and diverse microbiome.” The fermented drink is typically made from cow’s milk, but if dairy isn’t your thing, there are non-dairy alternatives such as ones made from cashew or coconut milk.
There’s a reason why people can’t stop talking about fermented vegetables. Like kefir, they do your gut, and therefore your overall health, a lot of good. “Incorporating a variety of fermented veggies can help to promote the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut,” King says. “Sauerkraut and kimchi are two examples of fermented veggies that are made from fermenting cabbage.” That said, there are a variety of other fermented veggies available at the grocery store such as beets, carrots, or cucumbers, so there’s a little something for everyone.