7 New Health Ingredients You Need To Know About

    banana blossom

    We chat to two top food experts about the seven healthy food ingredients we’ll be putting on our plates and in our baskets over the coming months… 

    Last year we saw an array of booze-free beers enter our favourite bars; milks of every variety go mainstream (oat, almond, rice, cashew, hemp), and high-street fast-food restaurants embrace vegan.

    But what’s on the menu this year? Lisa Harris, food futurologist, chats to Waitrose & Partners Food Editor, Silvana Franco, to find out…

    Banana blossom

    With a growing enthusiasm for #MeatfreeMondays and all things vegan, we’ve seen people getting ever-more creative with their meat-free alternatives. Last year we saw mycoprotein (a single-cell protein derived from fungi) on many menus and this year banana blossom or banana hearts are tipped to be the next natural meat replacement.

    This fleshy, purple-skinned flower, which grows at the end of banana clusters – similar to a courgette flower – has a meaty artichoke-type texture and make excellent fishless goujons, chilli or burrito filling. They’re also rich in vitamin C, iron, magnesium and amino acids which are essential to a healthy diet.


    When it comes to the way we drink, “this year it’s about reducing rather than simply abstaining,” from alcohol, says Silvana, so expect to see creative lower alcohol alternatives in your favourite food magazines and on restaurant menus.

    Popular as an aperitif in Italy and Spain, vermouth is a sophisticated, healthier choice next time it’s your round, so swap your G for a V&T to enjoy a healthier tipple. Vermouth is lower in alcohol than gin (15% versus 37.5%), has half the calories, and it’s more affordable too.


    You’ve probably heard of probiotics, friendly bacteria that are good for your gut (found in yogurt, kefir, miso). Well, this year we’ll be embracing ‘prebiotics’, which help to induce the growth or activity of helpful microorganisms in our digestive systems, which in turn support immunity, digestive health, bone density and brain health.

    Prebiotics cover a wide range of ingredients you might already throw in your shopping basket (onions, bananas, garlic, oatmeal, cacao) as well as trending, less well known ingredients, such as konjac root, flaxseeds, jicama root, seaweed.

    “We’re all thinking bigger than just gut health now,” says Silvana, “so while these ingredients are great for digestion, they also help our mood and mental health too.”

    Kimchi 2.0

    Cabbage kimchi, the Korean fermented vegetable pickle, has been heralded as a wonder ingredient for some time now thanks to its probiotic (see above) live bacteria, which maintain gut health and help to lowering blood pressure.

    The big news for 2020 is that there are actually around 200 different types of kimchi, including green chilli pepper, white kimchi, cucumber or radish kimchi, so expect your kimchi repertoire to expand and your general Korean food uptake to increase.

    “We’re expecting to see a big boost in Korean food, especially kimchi paste,” says Silvana. “This taps into the fermentation and gut health trends, and it’s delicious too.”


    A West African style of millet called fonio is being hailed as the next ‘supergrain’ because it’s gluten-free, nutrient-rich and takes just 5 minutes to cook. With a texture similar to couscous, it has a low glycemic index and is full of vitamin B, amino acids and iron, which are good for heart health, digestion, and controlling blood sugar.

    Fonio also grows well in arid conditions, which makes it versatile in the face of climate change. Like farro, spelt, sorghum or kamut, keep a jar of fonio in your store cupboard and use it as a nutritious alternative to rice or pasta.


    The NHS recommends eating 30g of fibre per day, but we’re currently only getting about half that. Because of this, inulin or chicory root fibre is becoming an emerging hero on the fibre scene; helping to relieve constipation and lowers risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

    You’ll find it in lots of pre-prepared, high-fibre granolas as well as naturally occurring in garlic, asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke. You can also buy it as a pure syrup (like a high-fibre replacement for honey) or in powdered form to add to home baking.

    So, that’s what’s tipped to be big in our foodie world this year, but how did we do with our predictions for 2019? From vegan ice cream to hemp based products – which ones did you try?

    Don’t forget that eligible Vitality members can get up to 40% cashback on Good Health products at Waitrose & Partners. Up to 40% cashback applies to members with both an eligible Health and Life plan. Members with either an eligible Health or Life plan can earn up to 25% cashback. Minimum monthly premiums, spend caps and T&Cs apply.