Natural health trends for 2009

The new year has arrived and the buzzwords are upon us! Here's what we're hearing so far about natural health and food trends for 2009.

1. Digestive health. Got probiotics? How about prebiotics? Or synbiotics? If these good bugs didn't cultivate your gut in 2008, they will soon.

2. Energy. Boosting energy reserves with herbs and ingredients such as rhodiola, ginseng, eleuthero, ashwagandha, caffeine, and B vitamins is hot. Look for these as supplements and in energy drinks.

3. Functional fruits. Pomegranate, mangosteen, a├žai, acerola, guava, lychee, starfruit go mainstream. Cupuacu, graviola, yumberry, baobob, miracle berry, breadfruit, jackfruit, coffee cherry, Indian gooseberry, gac, hawthorn, sea-buckthorn will follow.

4. Weight management. Not weight loss, but management. Ditch the fad diet: It's all about eating real foods, exercising, and maintaining healthy goals.

5. Kids' nutrition. Keeping kids away from junk and getting them to eat more nutritious fare can be tricky. Look for more solve-it-quick solutions in powders, pills, and fortified foods.

6. Healthy snacks. Low-fat, low-sugar, low-calories ... low everything. More fiber, healthy fats (omega-3s), and functional nutrition.

7. Stevia and sugar alternatives. With FDA approval and very few calories, stevia is set to star in a beverage or baked good coming soon to a store near you. Also look for palm sugar.

8. Cosmeceuticals, a.k.a. beauty nutrients, such as antioxidants, botanicals, enzymes, hyaluronic acid, amino acids, probiotics, Co-Q10, and green tea.

9. Healthy planet = healthy you. We're finding out that what's good for the planet is good for our health. For example, eating less beef.

10. Home cooking, or "dining in". This is my favorite trend, combining necessary frugality with a passion for wholesome, healthy ingredients. Need inspiration? Check out our healthy recipe archives.

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