Food and Nutrition Trends in Asia Pacific

Author: By Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND - Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training, Herbalife Nutrition

Nutrition is the key to healthy living and success in all walks of life. In the recent years, we have witnessed several food and nutrition trends in the region. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the leading food and nutrition trends that will gain greater popularity in 2021!

Superfoods

Superfoods generally contain bioactive components such as poly-unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, probiotic micro-organisms, antioxidants, essential amino acids, polysaccharides and enzymes. These are considered to be foods that can increase vitality and overall health by boosting the human immune system. They have various important antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C and E, flavonoids, selenium, B-carotene, zinc, lycopene, albumin etc. Various types of berries, tea, ginger, walnuts, almonds, broccoli, spinach, chia seeds, acai, coconuts, red beans and cocoa are some of the widely consumed superfoods.

Gut food

The enteric nervous system (ENS) is now being referred to as the second brain or the gut brain because it has the ability to operate independently of the brain and the spinal cord which constitute the central nervous system (CNS). Today, the focus is on consuming foods that help avoid indigestion, gas, stones, bloating of the stomach or other gastrointestinal problems. Low carbohydrate, vegetable based flours such as soya are gaining prominence over the traditional grains.

Floral beverages

Floral ingredients have already gained a lot of popularity in the food and beverages segment. Different flowers contain diverse levels of anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. For instance, Hibiscus is a very popular flower and Hibiscus laced tea is known to reduce blood pressure, support healthy cholesterol and triglycerides. Hibiscus helps in fighting cancer, oxidative stress and obesity. It is also a popular anti-depressant and can prevent formation of kidney stones.

Plant-based diets

There are indicators that the plant-based food trend will gain momentum in the new normal. A recent survey by Herbalife Nutrition among 8,000 consumers in APAC showed that in the past year, 49% of respondents who have made changes to their diet started eating more fruits and vegetables, 46% ate less meat, while 39% chose to eat more plant-based foods. The top reason cited for the changes was to improve their health.

For those who want to eat more plant-based food but don’t want to give up the taste of meat, there are plenty of ‘meatless meat’ options. While bean and grain-based burgers have been around for some time, there are newer products made with plant protein powders that provide the taste and texture that meat-eaters crave. This is positive news for many of the survey respondents who did not want to eat less meat because of the taste factor.

Protein Products

Protein products have witnessed a surge in demand in recent times. Due to the lower cost,  easy availability and functionality, soy and dairy products will continue to dominate as the leading protein sources in the region. As per estimates plant-protein consumption in the region is on the rise and it is expected to register about  12% year-on-year growth until 2025

Soy protein is the largest source of proteins in the region, and it is followed by wheat, pea, rice and whey proteins in terms of market size. In a lot of areas, protein shakes and supplements are rapidly replacing conventional aerated beverages.

Functional Soups

The fast-paced lifestyles and lack of time scenarios have pushed people to look for easy and quick-fix alternatives to meals such as functional soups. Various ingredients such as ginger, ginseng, cordyceps etc are being used as ingredients in soups.

Soups have been a key part of the food and traditional medicine practices  across the region and they offer various  health benefits and nutrients that go far beyond merely filling the stomach. There is a lot of focus on analysing soups on functional and toxicological parameters as the impact of the soups  on nanostructures is vital to health and wellness. The nanostructures not only provide a fresh perspective of  analysing the functional traditional food, but, also serve as a basis for discovering future drugs.

Diet for the mind

The focus on mental health has increased tremendously in recent times. Most of the people are realizing that mental health and stimulation are as important to a good life as physical fitness and energy. Hence, people are increasingly looking for foods that don’t just fill the belly, but, also invigorate the mind. Food items that are rich in turmeric, ginseng, Vitamin Bs and other such nutrients are becoming popular. Beverages like coffee and green tea are being seen as more than just the morning drinks that get you out of the bed and this trend  of focusing on food and beverages that are good for the mind will become bigger in 2021.

 This article was originally published in Food and Beverage Asia