Health First Network and the Canadian Health Food Association want to help you stay ahead of the health curve with the latest natural health trends.

The CHFA spoke to industry insiders across the country to find out what Canadians should be looking for in health food stores in 2016. Here are the top five trends that have natural health experts buzzing.

1. Sea Greens: Is Kelp the New Kale?

In 2016, everyone will be looking at the nutritional and environmental benefits of sea greens. Some experts are even going as far as calling kelp the new kale. With so many types of seaweed available, from kelp, to Kombu, to nori, the options for experimenting are endless. Other gifts from the sea include sea asparagus, and brown, red and green algae.

So what makes sea greens so trendy? Sea vegetables are virtually fat-free, low in calories but rich in minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, enzymes and trace minerals, nutritional benefits that land vegetables lack due to soil demineralization.

Sea greens are also packed with flavour. They can add a natural seasoning to foods, thanks to their balanced combination of sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and other trace minerals naturally found in the ocean.

Furthermore, sea greens are rich in iodine, which contributes to our thyroid health by creating thyroid hormones. This helps to regulate our metabolism and weight, and enhance our growth, development and energy.

Not only do sea greens help our bodies, but they’re also incredibly eco-friendly. Sea greens can be grown sustainably, and when farmed correctly, have minimal impact on the environment. When choosing a sea green product, we encourage you to look for those that have been grown sustainably.

2. Vitamin C and D: Old Favourites Find New Applications

Supplementing with vitamin C and D has long been considered an easy way to add some sunshine to your health, especially during our long Canadian winters. This year, we encourage you to discover new and interesting applications and sources for these old favourites. Check out our three favourite findings below.

  1. We know that we should wear sunscreen every day, but did you know adding a little vitamin C serum to your daily screening can enhance your protection and give your face a little treat? Vitamin C can help boost the enzymes that synthesize collagen in the skin which can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Extensive research has shown benefits of both topical applications and adequate intake of vitamin C through a balanced diet or supplementation. Today’s growing variety of products fortified with vitamin C make it easy for you to get your mini facial on, whether you’re sitting by the fire or hitting the slopes.
  1. Everyone always talks about vitamin D, but not many of us understand why we need it. Vitamin D is crucial for the optimal function of all our body systems, playing many important roles in the body, from bone health to immune system support. New research points to a connection between low vitamin D and artery disease, showing that vitamin D may even play a role in heart health. The actual amount of vitamin D in many whole foods varies dramatically, making it difficult for Canadians to reach their recommended dosage of this vital nutrient. Supplementation with vitamin D is almost universally recommended.
  1. When thinking about vitamin C this year, we encourage you to think beyond the lemon tree. There are all kinds of winter veggies that are rich in vitamin C, including red and green bell peppers, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Remember that vitamin C is a delicate vitamin and easily breaks down when roughly handled or is exposed to heat, light and oxygen in the air. Get the most out of your vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies by keeping them refrigerated, using them quickly after they are chopped, and limit cooking time. To help fill in the blanks, speak to your healthcare practitioner about adding a quality vitamin C supplement to your regime.

3. Sweet and Savoury Treats with a Health Kick

Everyone loves to indulge, especially during the holidays and winter season. But what if you could satisfy those sweet and salty cravings with food that also includes a nutritional kick? In 2016, these healthy and indulgent options are almost limitless! Be on the lookout for all kinds of traditional treats that include a little something extra to enhance your health. Below are some trendy ideas to satisfy your sweet tooth and get that crunch we all crave.

Savoury superfoods

Dehydrated or baked kelp chips boast a whole serving of veggies and iodine, and are a much healthier alternative to potato chips. They still satisfy that salty craving, without the empty calories. You can also find chips made from beans, root veggies and even lentils or coconut. We love to make kale chips at home too.


Cocoa boasts blood pressure-lowering effects and recent research is pointing to additional heart-healthy benefits.

There still seems to be some confusion about the benefits of chocolate.  Is milk-chocolate good for you? (No).  Does chocolate have a beneficial “dose”? (Yes). Is there actually high quality research to support it? (Yes!).

Cocoa polyphenols, the anti-oxidants in cocoa, can be found in dark chocolate or as a supplement.  Unfortunately, milk- and white-chocolate don’t have enough of these beneficial phytonutrients to provide health benefits.

A large and growing body of research has found that improved blood-flow can be accomplished by consuming  25 – 40 g of dark chocolate, containing at least 85% cocoa (around 200 calories of dark chocolate).

This year, there are all sorts of new ways to treat yourself with a health kick. In fact, one of the exciting new products out there merges last year’s superstar, coconut, with chocolate. Can it get any better?

4. 2016 Superfood: Hemp

Hemp is one of the most versatile natural products on Earth. The seed is super nutritious, but the fibre from the stalk and leaves are also incredibly good for you.

Hemp is an excellent source of protein and a great vegan alternative for those allergic to nuts. This superfood has an ideal balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids and is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). It’s also rich in vitamin E and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.

Canadians can find hemp as a raw seed, grounded into flour, sprouted, in milk or juice form, as a protein or fibre supplement, and in other products, including clothing and paper! Best of all, Canada has a thriving hemp industry, meaning many products available at your local store are locally grown and made.

5. Fibre is the New “Protein”

Protein was all the rage last year. In 2016, all the experts are buzzing about the next big health trend: fibre! Fibre has many health benefits, reaching far beyond its most common use in keeping our digestive tracts moving smoothly.  We already know that fibre is good for intestinal health, but did you know that an increase in fibre intake can help maintain weight better than a restrictive diet plan? 

Surprisingly, most people don’t even get half of the daily recommended fibre amounts: 25 grams per day for adult women and 38 grams per day for adult men.

Fibre also boasts heart-health benefits and has been shown to lower cholesterol. It works by absorbing water in the gut, forming a gel-like substance that can bind to cholesterol and bile acids, and eliminate them from the body.

A recent scientific meta-analysis also found that fibre intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohns Disease. Fibre keeps your gut happy by feeding your good gut bacteria. These probiotics impact our immunity, digestive health and even mood. A diverse diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains provides healthy nutrients, while keeping our good gut bugs healthy and happy with plenty of fibre.

These natural health trends are a blend of old and new, local and imported. Remember to consult your health care practitioner before making any changes to your health regime.

This article originally appeared on Health First Network is a proud member of CHFA.