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5 Trends to Embrace in 2015 and 5 to Ditch

Health and weight loss fads can come and go in the blink of an eye, which is often a good thing, since most don’t deliver on their bold promises. Here are five trends to leave in the past, along with five sound and sane healthy-eating habits that I’ll be happy to see build a following in 2016.

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1. Bone Broth

This time last year, bone broth was the craze, but enthusiasm has already waned considerably. The brew has been touted as a cure-all for all sorts of ailments, but there’s no evidence to support the claims. Though the bones do leach small amounts of minerals into stock, the liquid isn’t as nutrient-dense as proponents claim, and the collagen it contains isn’t any better for your muscles, skin, or gut than other food proteins. Also, some versions are high in salt, which most of us already get too much of in our diet. If you’re just looking for a soothing brew, stick to low-sodium stock — but keep in mind that a cup of tea works just as well.

2. Bulletproof Coffee

This butter-laden beverage that’s popular among the Paleo crowd weighs you down with about 465 calories, 85 percent of which are coming from saturated fat. That’s not the type of fat you want to load up on to keep your heart pumping strong. And because the drink is pure fat, it’s sorely lacking in vitamins, minerals, and health-boosting phytochemicals. You can consume your breakfast calories more wisely with nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, or whole grains combined with beneficial fats from nuts (or nut butter), seeds, avocado, or plant oils.

3. Juice Cleanses and Detoxes

Downing liquid produce for a few days won’t magically rid your body of toxins, nor will it “undo” months or weeks of unhealthy eating. Juice cleanses have no scientific evidence to support that they work. Plus, subsisting on juices, which are almost entirely carbohydrate with minimal fat or protein, can leave you feeling famished, irritable, or exhausted. And since the fiber is removed during the juicing process, you’re missing out on one of the best benefits fruits and vegetables have to offer. If you’re a juicing fan, skip the full-on cleanse and simply enjoy one drink per day in place of a snack, drink a smoothie instead of juice, or as part of a balanced breakfast paired with some protein, like a hard-boiled egg or a handful of nuts. Stick to blends that are primarily vegetables, not fruit, to keep the calories and sugar reasonably low (leafy green-based drinks are often among the best options).

4. Protein Bars, Powders, and Shakes

When you get protein from whole foods, such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, eggs, and dairy, you also take advantage of all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that also come along for the ride. However for many people that need a quick, healthy, convenient option, they often turn to protein bars, powders and shakes. Beware of which brand and product you choose though. There have been some that have been contaminated and recalled. Do your research and make sure you're buying from a company that you can trust.

5. Alkaline Diets and Waters

Alkaline diets aren’t new, but they did experience a peak in 2015 after several A-list celebs jumped on the pH-balanced bandwagon. While claims about the benefits abound, there’s not a lot of science to back up the hype. Following an alkaline-promoting diet, or drinking special (read: expensive) alkalinized waters won’t alter your body’s acid-base balance, because the pH of your blood is carefully regulated and maintained within a narrow range. There’s also no proof that following an acid-reducing regimen fights cancer, increases energy, strengthens bones, or decreases arthritis pain any better than a generally healthy diet. While I certainly support the diet’s overall message to eat more vegetables, fruits, and plant-based proteins, I don’t think there’s any added advantage to following restrictive lists of “good” and “bad” foods.

Fortunately, not all trends are bad news. Here are five ways we’re changing the way we eat for the better in 2016 and beyond.

1. Friendly Fats

It’s safe to say we’ll continue to outgrow our fat phobia in the new year, which is definitely a smart move for those who choose their fats wisely. Nuts, seeds, avocado, fish, and oils like olive deliver unsaturated fats, which can boost heart health when used as a replacement for foods high in saturated fat, including red meat, butter, and whole-milk dairy. According to the folks over at Pinterest, avocado oil will be especially hot this year. Refined avocado oil has a high smoke point, so you can use it to stir fry, sauté, and roast, but it’s also great raw in salad dressings and dips.

2. Plant-Based Proteins

Meatless isn’t just for Mondays any more. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, set to be released before the end of the year, will continue to vigorously promote a diet rich in beans, lentils, nuts, and other plant-based proteins and low in red and processed meat, despite the fact than an attempt to factor sustainability into the government’s healthy eating recommendations was defeated. Beans and lentils will continue to gain in popularity with encouragement from health experts praising their many nutritional benefits, along with support from the United Nations, which has officially declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (another word for legumes).

3. Fresher Fast Food Options

While McDonald’s sales continue to deteriorate, a batch of healthier fast food chains have cropped up. Restaurants like Freshii and Fresh & Co. will offer people the convenience of take-out in the form of nutritious meals like quinoa bowls, bean and tofu burritos, collard green wraps, and salads featuring a bounty of fresh vegetables and fruits. That’s great news for people who say lack of time as their primary obstacle to better eating. At the same time, meal prep services can help busy families prepare well-balanced meals at home in a jiffy (if they’re willing to pay up for the extra assistance).

4. Lower-Sugar Lifestyle

Sugar will remain in the hot seat this year, and will likely get even more negative attention if the updated Dietary Guidelines include a new recommendation to limit added sugar to less than 10 percent of calories. Eliminating sugary drinks and cutting back on desserts and sweets, as well as other packaged foods with added sugar, can help with weight control, reduce inflammation in the body, and improve overall health, . That said, you don’t need to give up sweet treats completely to do your body good, nor should you worry about the natural sugar in nutrient-rich fruit or unsweetened dairy products.

5. “Hot” Whole Foods

Every year, there’s a new group of trendy vegetables, fruits, and other ingredients (everything from cauliflower to acai has had its day in the sun). While the whole selection process is more than a little capricious, I appreciate that all this talk generates excitement for nutrient-packed foods, many of which (like beets and Brussels sprouts) could use more attention. So, what’s on the top of the list for 2016, according to people in the know (or at least those responsible for manufacturing said trends)? Well, in addition to avocado oil, you can expect to see a lot more seaweed, kohlrabi, tahini, turmeric, ras el hanout (and other African and Middle Eastern spice blends), salsify, cold vegetable soups (like gazpacho), and poke, a chilled, typically raw, seafood salad that hails from Hawaii.