Superfoods in the Restaurant

The last few years have seen a marked increase in a variety of different foods getting elevated to the status of ‘superfoods’. You’ve probably heard all the hype about how these superfoods go above and beyond in terms of the provision of essential nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy. In fact, you may have heard too much hype and are tempted to simply dismiss these foods as passing fads. Do so at your own peril! Superfoods are here to stay, and Americans are embracing them whole-heartedly.

We Live in an Increasingly Health Conscious Nation

Thanks to all of the media coverage about how Americans are some of the most obese people in the world, in combination with new insights about how to stay healthy, our nation’s people are becoming increasingly health conscious. They recognize the importance of proper nutrition and the effect that it has on our performance and well-being. More and more people want to both look good and feel good. It’s no surprise then that they are looking for healthier options on restaurant menus when they eat out as well.

What Criteria Classifies Something as a ‘Superfood’?

When you hear something called a ‘superfood’, you can expect that it means it is packed full of vital nutrients. In most cases the food either has more than the normal level of certain nutrients or it has quantities of nutrients and/or amino acids that are difficult to find elsewhere. That being said, there actually isn’t yet any set, formal criteria to consider something a superfood. As a result, there is currently a wide variety of foods housed under that umbrella and you should conduct your own research to conclude which are genuinely worthy of being additions to your regular menu options.

Superfood Hits from 2012 Restaurant Menus

Thanks to consumer pressure to provide healthier options and pending legislation about the disclosure of calorie counts on the menu, many restaurants have already added a number of superfoods to the menu. Avocado had the largest menu penetration for restaurants in 2012 – appearing on 35.6% of restaurant menus (an 8.9% increase from 2011). Olive oil followed its heels closely with an appearance on 30.1% of menus. Walnuts hit 23.6%, blueberries at 20% followed by sweet potatoes with an 18.6% appearance rate. Other foods such as kale, quinoa, beets, acai, and brown rice all also made substantial gains in appearance on restaurant menus across the nation.

Now, it’s obvious that consumer trends can change quickly in terms of the specific ingredients they want to have available to them when they eat out. While keeping up with these trends is somewhat important, it’s not necessary to try to feature each and every one on your menu.

The specific foods that are going to fall into the superfood category will shift somewhat according to the tastes and fashions of the moment. Instead of trying to follow every one, what is more important is simply the recognition that the current consumer trend for more healthful foods is a trend that is here to stay.

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