By: Jessica Glosson, B.S.
Find out what’s currently trending on supermarket shelves, social media, and within the world of nutrition and dietetics.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (aka ACV) is a fermented vinegar product derived from apples. ACV has been used throughout history to serve a multitude of purposes: it flavors salad dressings, works as an all-purpose cleaner, alleviates hiccups and sore throats, and can even be used to whiten teeth! A plethora of research has recently focused on the potential health benefits of ACV in cases of chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and obesity.  These studies have procured interesting results; ACV consumption is thought to potentially improve satiety in those struggling with weight loss and when drank with water prior to meals, ACV use has been correlated with lowered fasting blood glucose levels in individuals at risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Evidence on these claims is limited however, and more research is needed within this area. 
In grocery stores, apple cider vinegar is quickly appearing in more and more products across the aisles. You can find it in the ingredient lists of facial toners, marinades, and grain-based salads. Switchel, a beverage that dates back to colonial American times, is comprised of apple cider vinegar, ginger, honey, and maple syrup; the resulting tangy drink has recently been cropping up in the refrigerated sections of grocery stores nationwide. Switchel is comparable to the also popular kombucha drink in terms of taste and price (a bottle retails for around $3.29).
In concordance with increasing trends towards gluten-free, organic, and/or vegan dietary patterns, pulse-based pasta products are rapidly gaining popularity among consumers and retail chains alike. The term “pulses” refers to leguminous foods such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and dried peas. Pulses are a nutritional “win” because they serve as low fat, plant based protein sources that contain beneficial fiber and vitamins. Gluten has acquired a pretty bad rap recently and pulse-based pastas have certainly capitalized on this. Pulse pastas are gluten free, generally vegan in nature, and can be cooked and served just like traditional pasta. Examples include red or green lentil penne, soy bean spaghetti, chickpea fusilli, edamame fettuccine, and even black bean spaghetti.
Intragastric Balloon Weight Loss Procedure
Also referred to as a “balloon enteroscopy” or “gastric balloon”, the intragastric balloon relates to a new type of weight loss procedure that does not involve an invasive surgery and can actually be performed in an outpatient setting. This procedure was recently approved for use in the US by the FDA in July 2015.3 A deflated silicone balloon is inserted endoscopically into the stomach and is then filled with saline to inflate. The presence of the inflated balloon increases feelings of satiety and limits the amount of food a person is able to consume. An inserted balloon is only intended to last for six months and its placement still requires an individual to adopt healthy lifestyle practices such as portion control and exercise. Most patients experience nausea and vomiting after placement; more serious complications are rare but could include stomach perforation or digestive blockage if the balloon were to deflate unintentionally.
Online shopping has been taken to a whole new level. New apps and websites like Shipt, Instacart, and Safeway allow customers to order groceries online and have them shipped to their houses for an effortless retail experience. These sites generally require users to sign up for a site-specific membership and in doing so, consumers can enjoy perks such as unlimited free grocery deliveries on orders that exceed a specified dollar amount. Companies like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated offer weekly delivery services that provide clients with recipes and a complete set of meal ingredients with which to prepare them with. These services are ideal for single working professionals who have an aversion to the grocery store but the desire to prepare whole-food meals.
“Clean” Eating: Labels, Marketing, and Foods
“Clean eating” refers to a recent trend that involves the embrace of minimally processed and natural food products. A decreased sense of trust towards the food industry and processing methods has resulted in the push for more organic, locally sourced fruit, vegetable, and grain products. Consumers are speaking and food companies are certainly listening. In response to this trend, Panera Bread launched a series of ad campaigns in 2015 that publicized their support of “clean foods”. This marketing tactic continues today, seen in the company’s recent removal of several artificial flavors and preservatives from a number of food products.5 The clean eating influence has impacted the composition and labeling of food products as well. Companies like “RXBAR” and “The Perfect Bar”, for example, capitalize on their products’ limited list of ingredients and even incorporate this element of the product into their packaging.
- Zeratsky K. Drinking apple cider vinegar for weight loss seems far-fetched. Does it work? The Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/apple-cider-vinegar-for-weight-loss/faq-20058394. Published March 17, 2015. Accessed September 14, 2016.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Intragastric Balloon. The Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/intragastric-balloon/basics/risks/prc-20146867. Updated November 5, 2015. Accessed September 14, 2016.
- FDA News Release. FDA approves non-surgical temporary balloon device to treat obesity. U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm456296.htm. July 28, 2015. Accessed September 14, 2016.
- Thalheimer JC. Hottest Nutrition Trends of 2016: Clean Eating. Today’s Dietitian. June 2016; 18(6): 37. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0616p37.shtml. Accessed September 14, 2016.
- Kell J. Panera Bread Makes Another ‘Clean’ Food Promise. Fortune. Published June 15, 2016. Accessed September 14, 2016. Available at http://fortune.com/2016/06/15/panera-clean-food-promise/.