The ketogenic (keto) diet, fermented foods, non-dairy milks and plant proteins are some of the hottest food and nutrition trends to look for in 2019, according to dietitians surveyed in the 7th annual "What's Trending in Nutrition" survey.

The study, conducted by Pollock Communications, New York, and Today's Dietitian magazine, Spring City, Pa., interviewed 1,342 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) to divulge what they predict consumers are thinking and eating. While fermented foods hold steady as the No. 1 superfood for 2018 and 2019, some surprising newcomers have made the list, including beets, blueberries and non-dairy milks. RDNs also predict that a "healthy" label will begin to surpass cost and taste when it comes to consumer purchase drivers. The rise of keto will oust clean eating from last year's top spot, with intermittent fasting making its debut as No. 2.

"It's not that ‘clean eating’ has declined in popularity," says Jenna Bell, senior vice president of Pollock Communications. "We are still seeing the consumer push for cleaner labels and the industry continues their work to deliver it. But, what's different here is that Millennial consumers are going beyond eliminating a food group, like cutting gluten, to making more drastic changes that require real lifestyle adjustments. It's beyond food is medicine; now food is the core of wellness." 

Top 10 superfoods for 2019
RDNs predict fermented foods – like yogurt, Kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi and miso – will continue to be highly sought after by consumers in 2019. Kale has fallen off the Top 10 list, with non-dairy milks nabbing the No. 10 spot. This underscores the rise in popularity of plant proteins and finding plant-based swaps. The list entails: 

  1. Fermented foods, like yogurt
  2. Avocado
  3. Seeds
  4. Ancient grains
  5. Exotic fruit, like acai, golden berries
  6. Blueberries
  7. Beets
  8. Nuts
  9. Coconut products
  10. Non-dairy milks

"Plant-based eating has been a major focus in the dietetic community," says Bell. "Now, consumers are hearing this message, and it's what they want."

This is apparent in the growth of seeds, nuts and non-dairy alternatives. In fact, the supermarket milk case has gone from cow to soy, rice, almond, coconut, walnut and oats.

To eat or not to eat – That is the trend
Consumers realize that what they eat affects how they feel, and based on the trends reported, RDNs think that consumers are looking for diets that primarily drive weight loss. As RDNs predicted, keto was a diet trend to watch in 2018, and continues to soar in popularity. RDNs agree the keto craze will continue in 2019, with consumers significantly reducing carbohydrates, grains and sugar in favor of vegetables, animal fat and meat. According to the survey, RDNs believe the next big diet – or lack thereof – will be intermittent fasting, with clean eating coming in as third most popular. 

"We have witnessed a progression in consumer demand for ‘health’ and ‘clean’ throughout the seven years of our survey, and as Millennials have been moving into their 30s," says Louise Pollock, president,  Pollock Communications. "We have seen the food industry respond by changing their strategy from a taste, cost-driven approach to one that appeals to these powerful health and wellness-seeking consumers."

Choose wisely—"healthy" holds the halo
One of the most interesting findings for 2019 is RDNs predict that consumers will be more concerned about the healthfulness of food products than the cost and taste when making purchasing decisions. Healthfulness has hovered near the Top 3 purchase drivers in recent years, but for the first time, moved up to the No. 2 spot, reinforcing the demand for better-for-you food choices. Convenience remains a steady stronghold at No. 1, with cost and taste at the No. 3 and No. 4 spots, respectively, followed by natural, organic and gluten-free.

Advice from the experts – RDNs know best
According to RDNs, Facebook is still the No. 1 source of where consumers receive nutrition misinformation, followed by blogs and Instagram. And, celebrities and friends/family remain the top sources of who consumers get nutrition misinformation from.

"RDs are experts at predicting trends because they consistently know what to expect from consumers," says Mara Honicker, publisher of Today's Dietitian. "Their trustworthy nutrition knowledge educates and improves consumer wellness, and their insights drive the future of food in industry and public policy."