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Here’s the lowdown on the health benefits of 7 popular foods.

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It seems like there are constantly new “it” foods that everyone’s talking about. But it’s often hard to tell whether these foods are actually healthy or if they are just marketed really well. And even if they’re touted as being good for you, most people don’t know why (or whether they will help their particular health issue).

Here are some trendy foods that have gained in popularity in recent years, along with some info on the types of health benefits they may (or may not) provide:

      • Kombucha – The probiotics in this fermented tea beverage have been touted for promoting gut health and detoxifying the body. However, since every batch of kombucha is different, it’s hard to determine exactly how healthy any particular drink is. Although kombucha may improve digestive issues, don’t drink too much because it may contain some alcohol and caffeine, as well as added sugar. Look for brands with no more than 8-9 grams sugar per bottle.
      • Kimchi – Made from fermented cabbage and seasonings such as chili pepper, ginger, garlic and salt, kimchi contains probiotics like kombucha that may also help improve gut health. It is also high in fiber, vitamin C and vitamin A.
      • Kefir – Sticking with the theme of fermented foods, kefir is a fermented drink that is similar to yogurt and is loaded with probiotics that promote a healthy gut. It can be made from cow’s milk or non-dairy milks, such as cashew or coconut milk. Since some brands have a lot of added sugar, stick to plain drinks or those with no more than 4-6 grams of added sugar per serving.
      • Nutritional Yeast – While it doesn’t sound too appealing, this popular vegan cheese substitute is loaded with protein (9 grams per 2 tablespoons) and is a good source of vitamin B-12. It is actually brewer’s yeast that has been dried and deactivated but it has a nutty, cheese-like taste.
      • Seaweed – Whether you use seaweed wraps to make sushi or munch on some seaweed snacks, seaweed is one of the few foods that naturally contains iodine, which is needed for thyroid health. It is also believed to help prevent inflammation and regulate estrogen levels.
      • Turmeric – This bright yellow spice is popular in Indian cooking and has also been promoted for its nutritional value. The active compound that gives the spice its vibrant color (curcumin) has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. Inflammation can play a role in serious health conditions, like heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.
      • Chickpea based foods – There seems to be no shortage lately of foods made from this fiber-rich food. Aside from hummus in every flavor imaginable, you can find products made from chickpeas ranging from pizza, pasta and cereal to snacks like puffs and bars. When eating foods made from chickpeas, you’ll reap the benefit of the fiber and nutrients this legume contains. Just check the label to see what other ingredients are added.

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Date Last Reviewed: November 17, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RD

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