The Top 10 Superfoods You'll See in 2017, According to Dietitians

Plus four burgeoning trends you need to know about for the coming year.

healthy food trends 2017

Every year seems to have its own hot "new" superfood: In 2014, the world cheered for chia. In 2015, everyone was keen on quinoa. And in 2016, we treasured our turmeric. So what's going to be the trendy superfood of 2017?

That's the question nutrition trade magazine Today's Dietitian and Pollock Communications set out to answer with its fifth annual "What's Trending in Nutrition" survey. More than 1,700 registered dietitians across the country answered 60 questions to predict the year's top 10 superfoods and four popular healthy eating trends. Click ahead to find out what the experts are expecting.

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10. Salmon

Congratulations to this versatile fish for making the list for the first time! "Salmon is rising in popularity as people realize that they should skip red meat more often and choose more seafood or plant-based meals as an alternative," says Sharon Palmer, RDN, contributing nutrition editor for Today's Dietitian and author of Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps and 125 Delicious Recipes. "It's an easy, approachable, and tasty food for achieving optimal health."

9. Exotic Fruits

These fruits might have unusual-sounding names and come from faraway lands, but they're chock-full of well-known vitamins and immune-boosting nutrients — not to mention flavor. "There is more understanding about the world of fruits — from goji berries to dragon fruit — and their high levels of antioxidant compounds," Palmer says. "While all fruits are beneficial, there is a rise in popularity of those that seem 'special' and 'super.'"

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8. Coconut Products

Say hello to a year full of coconut milk, creamer, butter, and oil — though Palmer says these coconut products might not be all they're cracked up to be: "Their popularity is based on purported health benefits of which the evidence is scant," she explains. "In fact, coconut has high levels of saturated fat, which can raise blood cholesterol levels and should be consumed in moderation." With that said, many consumers seem to be embracing the "fat is back" food trend, "and the confusion over saturated fat being 'good' — evidence has not borne this out — has led many people to think coconut oil is a panacea," Palmer explains.

7. Green Tea

It's official: 2017 is the year to go green. "People are more interested in the traditional Japanese diet, which includes daily green tea," Palmer says. "More people are realizing they shouldn't be drinking sodas and sweet beverages, so they are looking for alternatives," she adds. "Green tea also makes a wonderful ingredient, which is why we are seeing more innovation in desserts, baked goods, and drinks."

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6. Kale

Even though it's slowly dropping on the popularity list, this high-fiber, leafy green veggie continues to be a top-10 food. "I think the rugged nature of the vegetable — it's easy to grow and stands up well in salads — as well as the very high nutrient profile has drawn people to it," Palmer says. "It's so deep green in color, signaling high levels of phytochemicals. Plus, it's low in calories and suitable for salads, casseroles, soups, snacks, and smoothies."

5. Ancient Grains

What's old is new again! "Many of these grains, such as barley and sorghum, are simply harvested, so you're able to cook them whole," Palmer says. Compared to modern grains (such as wheat, corn, and rice), the majority of "old-fashioned" grains are gluten-free, high in fiber, and rich in protein and nutrients — they provide essential minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

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4. Fermented Foods

Pass me a pickle, please! "Some people are trying to eat fermented foods daily, so we are finding a return to sauerkraut and fermented dairy foods, like kefir," Palmer says. "These foods have really been rising in popularity due to their health benefits, as well as honoring ancient traditions. People are more interested in a story about food, so the idea that fermentation — a practice that dates back to the dawn of time — can provide benefits to the gut and immune system is intriguing."

3. Nuts

People are going nuts (ha!) for these bite-sized nutritional powerhouses, thanks to the ongoing research of their health benefits: A December 2016 review of studies found a link between eating a handful of nuts a day and reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. "The fats in nuts are healthful, and some nuts, like walnuts, contain omega-3s, while others, like almonds, contain vitamin E," Palmer says. Then there are peanuts and pistachios, which are packed with energy-boosting protein. "Nuts are a great plant protein alternative and are the perfect whole food snack." No wonder Dr. Oz stashes nuts in his workbag!

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2. Avocado

Oh hey, it's our favorite creamy green fruit again! (Yes, avocado is a fruit.) "We are seeing avocado in everything — toast, brownies, mousse, smoothies," Palmer says. "They fit in many types of diets and are part of cultural food traditions." Loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as potassium (they contain more potassium than bananas), folic acid, vitamin E, and B vitamins, they're also rich in fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. "Avocados make everything taste better, and now you don't have to feel guilty because those are healthful fats in the avocado," Palmer continues. "In other words, it's a healthy indulgent food."

1. Seeds

Whether flax, sunflower, or pumpkin, seeds have catapulted their way to the top spot on the list of popular superfoods due to their versatility (they're showing up in all sorts of products, including cereals, bars, snacks, and desserts) and their nutritional value. "They've been rising in popularity because they are nutrient-rich, providing plant proteins and healthy fats," Palmer says.

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