Healthy Menu Options: The Trends for 2023
Jan 18, 2023
Offering healthy menu options on restaurant menus has become increasingly important for today's consumers. As health and wellness become a top priority for many, customers are looking for dishes that not only taste good but also provide various health benefits.
With this in mind, it's essential for chefs and restaurant owners to stay on top of the latest health trends and adapt their menu options accordingly. In this blog post, we'll look at the top five food trends shaping how restaurants craft healthy menu options for 2023.1
1. Superfoods on the menu: avocado, quinoa, kale, turmeric, and more
Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds. These foods have been shown to have various health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases, improving heart health, and supporting weight loss.
- Avocados are high in healthy monounsaturated fats that can lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. They also contain Vitamin K, which is essential for bone health and numerous other vitamins like folate, which is vital for pregnant women. Check out Simplot Harvest Fresh™ Avocados frozen and chilled products to see how you can offer the goodness of avocado with less labor and waste.
- Berries are a great source of antioxidants, which help protect against cell damage from free radicals. In addition, they contain fiber which can help improve digestion, as well as Vitamin C, which helps with the absorption of iron. And if you'd like to serve berries year-round, Simplot Simple Goodness™ Premium Fruit products are a great choice.
- Dark Leafy Greens such as spinach and kale are loaded with fiber, calcium, vitamin C, iron, potassium, folate, beta-carotene, and magnesium. All these nutrients work together to boost immunity, improve digestion, regulate hormone balance, promote eye health, reduce inflammation, aid in detoxification and more! Simplot Good Grains™ Premium Frozen Grain products and Simplot Simple Goodness™ Premium Vegetables offer options with dark leafy green vegetables and simple, heat-and-serve prep.
- Nuts and Seeds are packed with healthy fats and plant proteins. They also provide essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper. All these nutrients contribute to improved cardiovascular health and brain function.
- Legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas contain protein, soluble fiber, B vitamins like folate and B6, as well as minerals such as iron and potassium. A product like Simplot RoastWorks® Flame-Roasted Corn & Black Bean Fiesta can help you add legumes to your menu with minimal labor.
Incorporating superfoods into healthy menu items is a great way to add a boost of nutrition to dishes while also making them more appealing to health-conscious customers. For example, a salad topped with quinoa, kale, and turmeric would be a flavorful and nutritious option. Alternatively, a smoothie made with acai and blueberries would be a delicious way to offer a dose of antioxidants.
2. Functional ingredients add more than just flavor
Functional ingredients are ingredients that have been shown to have specific health benefits. These ingredients can include probiotics, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and more.
- Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and microorganisms in certain foods like yogurt and fermented vegetables. They help maintain a healthy digestive system by restoring the natural balance of bacteria in the gut and preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Some probiotics may also help with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis and boost immunity.
- Prebiotics are food components that feed probiotic bacteria in the gut, allowing them to flourish. Foods rich in prebiotics include garlic, onions, artichokes, chicory root, and asparagus. Prebiotics have been shown to improve digestion, reduce constipation and bloating, and increase mineral absorption from other foods consumed at the same time.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats found mainly in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring, anchovies and trout. These fats can help protect against heart disease by reducing inflammation throughout the body and improving blood cholesterol levels. They may also play a role in brain development during pregnancy and infancy.
- Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by oxidation — an imbalance between oxygen molecules (free radicals) and other molecules in our bodies that can lead to cell damage. Foods high in antioxidants include berries (such as blueberries), nuts (like walnuts), green tea and dark leafy greens (like spinach).
- Dietary fiber is important for digestion because it helps slow digestion so that nutrients can be absorbed more effectively into your body. It also helps reduce cholesterol levels by binding with bile acids produced by your liver for digestion. Good sources of dietary fiber include fruits (especially apples), legumes (such as beans), whole grains (like oats), nuts (like almonds), seeds (like flaxseeds), leafy greens (such as kale), bran cereals, potatoes, squash, cucumbers, carrots, Brussels sprouts and avocados.
3. Next-level ingredients: Coming to a restaurant menu near you soon
Next-level ingredients are unique and innovative ingredients used to create healthy menu options. These ingredients can include edible flowers, matcha, and insects. For example, edible flowers such as nasturtiums and pansies can add a pop of color and flavor to dishes. Matcha, a type of green tea powder, is an excellent source of antioxidants and can add a unique flavor to dishes. Finally, insects like crickets are a sustainable and nutritious alternative protein source.
Here are some more to consider:
- Red quinoa richer in protein than regular quinoa and contains more antioxidants per gram than blueberries. It's also an excellent source of iron and dietary fiber, which helps keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the day! For a faster, more consistent way of preparing quinoa, check out Simplot Good Grains™ Red Quinoa—and go from freezer to table in less than 10 minutes.
- Pumpkin seeds provide essential minerals like magnesium and phosphorus, which are beneficial for our overall well-being – they also contain zinc which helps support a healthy immune system.
- Chlorella is known for its detoxifying powers due to its high chlorophyll content – it is also a great source of antioxidants. It has been said to help reduce cholesterol levels when consumed regularly.
- Maca root is full of vitamins B, C, E, and amino acids. Research suggests that consuming maca root may help improve energy levels while helping regulate hormone balance in the body.2
- Moringa has leaves with high amounts of Vitamin A, C and K, making it an incredibly nutritious food – research suggests that consuming moringa can help reduce inflammation in the body while improving cardiovascular health.
- Wheatgrass is loaded with antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and chlorophyll, which helps protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Its high iron content provides us with more energy throughout the day!
4. How disease management is changing healthy menu options
Food has long been viewed as a vital component of good health. In recent years, the concept of food as medicine—or using dietary modifications to treat and manage disease—has gained much attention in the medical field.
As disease management becomes an increasingly important focus for customers, many restaurants are adapting healthy menu options to meet these needs. This might include offering gluten-free, low-sugar, and low-sodium options for customers with celiac disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
Additionally, providing nutritional information for dishes can help customers make informed choices about what to order. And creating disease management-focused items can be a great way to attract customers with specific dietary needs.
5. Eating for the planet: Understanding the climatarian diet
The Climatarian diet is a new trend gaining popularity among health-conscious customers. It is a diet focused on reducing the environmental impact of food production by choosing foods with a lower carbon footprint. This might include eating a plant-based diet, choosing locally-sourced ingredients, and avoiding heavily processed foods.
It's small now but growing. Only 10% of consumers practice a climatarian diet, but 22% said they were interested in trying it. Nearly 1/3 of Americans rank climate change as one of the top three socio-economic issues they care most about.3
- More plants, less animal protein. Climatarians often consider themselves vegetarian or vegan.3
- Consumers are ahead of foodservice operators. 30% of consumers surveyed said they believe food brands and restaurants should take a public stand on climate change. Only 13% of operators, however, said they had done so.3
- More restaurants are considering the climate. 21% of operators said they planned to take a stand in the next two years.3
By offering Climatarian-friendly menu options, restaurants can attract environmentally-conscious customers and show their commitment to sustainability. This can include incorporating plant-based options and reducing food waste. Be sure to provide information about the environmental impact of menu items, so customers can make informed choices about what they order.
Offering healthy options broadens your audience
Adding healthy menu options can help increase business at a restaurant by appealing to a wider range of customers. Many diners are looking for healthier options, whether for dietary restrictions or personal preferences. By catering to the growing demand for healthy food, your restaurant can differentiate itself from competitors and increase its customer base.
1 Datassential, Healthy & Wellness Report, September 2022
3 Datassential, Trend Watch, Diet Trends Deep Dive, 2022