Natural Grocers Top 10 Nutrition Trends for 2019

At Natural Grocers we have advocated for health and wellness since we started way back in 1955. Part of that advocating means keeping our finger on the pulse of the next big things in wellness. For this year’s trends report, we spoke to more than 70 of our nutrition experts and pored over the latest research, and all signs point to a 2019 that’s more intentional, purposeful, and mission-driven.

We see priorities rapidly shifting, giving us renewed motivation to take care of ourselves, one another, and this planet we all share.

This year, we did things a little differently and added a bonus trend—a trend so important we think everyone should know about it. As we begin to see the real-time effects of climate change unfold before our eyes, we think it is a crucially important issue to not only discuss, but to actively work to find solutions to.

1. Mitochondrial Optimization Will Keep Healthy Fats in Focus

Natural Grocers Brand Organic Coconut OilFive years ago the buzzword was microbiome; this year it is mitochondria. Mitochondria are our cells “power plants,” converting oxygen and food into the energy our body needs to stay alive and thrive. When your mitochondria are dysfunctional, not only will your energy reserve decrease, resulting in fatigue and brain fog, but you can also become vulnerable to degenerative diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. The best way to support healthy mitochondria function?  Eat more fat! Healthy fat, that is. Mitochondria function at their best when fueled by fat, not carbs. One tool to support mitochondria is the trending ketogenic diet.

In 2019, expect to see more high-fat focused and ketogenic products hitting the market.

Try this trend: Test the benefits for yourself—roll your own fat bombs and make Natural Grocers Brand Organic Coconut Oil, a staple in your pantry. Check out one of the delicious and energizing Picnik butter coffees.


2. Collagen & Bone Broth are Easier than Ever

Beef Bone Broth Bonafide ProvisionsScoop by healthy scoop, collagen has gained mainstream interest over the past year as everyone adds it to their smoothies, matchas, and lattes in the quest for glowing skin, healthy joints, and gut healing, and in 2019, as more collagen and bone broth products enter the market, so will convenient opportunities for consumers to take collagen on a daily basis. Brands like Primal Kitchen have introduced collagen peptide products and Nordic Naturals has launched a new marine collagen powder. For our vegan friends, Amazing Grass has a new Beauty Elixir powder with adaptogenic herbs and collagen precursors to support radiant skin, hair, and nails.

Bone broth, the richest natural source of collagen, will continue its expansion into the mainstream as well and companies will continue to explore unique and simple ways for consumers to try it out. In addition to Ancient Nutrition’s Bone Broth Protein Powder, they’ve recently released tasty Bone Broth Superfood Protein Bars. Kettle & Fire offers Thai Curry Soup, Tomato Soup, and Butternut Squash Soup, all formulated with bone broth, making it too easy not to try. And for the purists, Bonafide Provisions offers pure bone broths made from grass-fed and pasture-raised bones.

Try this trend: Bonafide Provisions offers pure bone broths made from grass-fed and pasture-raised bones. Try a thermos of hot bone broth to warm up on a cold, winter day.


3. Sorry Sugar, We’re Breaking Up with You

Natural Grocers Brand Organic Pasta SauceIn 2019, consumers will continue to become aware of how much sugar is insidiously added to almost everything we eat. Look in your pantry and refrigerator and you’re likely to find the major culprits— ketchup, barbecue sauce, flavored yogurts, coffee creamers, chips, breads, cereals, spaghetti sauce, fruit juice, sports drinks, and even bacon! This year, we’ll be trying more sugar detoxes that hopefully steamroll into zero-added sugar lifestyles. As we learn how to say no to sugars, companies are listening and going back to the basics.

This year, learn how to break up with sugar. Once you become a savvy monitor of added sugar, it will become easier to avoid it and enjoy the health benefits you’re bound to experience.

Try this trend: You’ll find no added sugar in the new Natural Grocers Brand Organic Pasta Sauce, Pederson's Natural Farm’s No Sugar Hickory Smoked Bacon and Birch Benders’ Paleo Frozen Toaster Waffles.


4. The Shroom Boom

Rebbl mushroom drinksIn the last several years, the amount of scientific research published on mushrooms has exploded. Turns out, mushrooms hold the power to support the immune system, blood sugar balance, brain health, liver health, respiratory health, hormone balance, and can even boost energy levels.

In response to the growing mountain of research promoting the health benefits of mushrooms, the supplement, grocery, and even body care industries are introducing more ways to try out these fungal superheroes. Supplement companies are turning out a variety of mushroom-centric supplements, geared toward everything from brain health to immunity.

The king of this mushroom mountain is Paul Stamets, founder of the supplement company Host Defense. Host Defense is built on Stamets’ visionary research into the power and potential of mushrooms, especially mushroom mycelium, the root-like structures found growing below ground. Host Defense produces mushroom supplements to support all of the aforementioned health benefits of mushrooms.

The stunning benefits of mushrooms are influencing new grocery products as well. We’ll continue to see the category grow with forward-thinking companies such as Four Sigmatic offering a variety of mushroom teas, tonics, broths, and coffees.

Try this trend: Rebbl drinks continue to fly off the shelves with Reishi Chocolate (a drinkable dark chocolate with a super-herb upgrade) and Reishi Cold Brew (a drink with the energy you need alongside the balancing effects and health benefits of the Reishi mushroom).


5. Nootropics & Neuroplasticity

Himalaya BacopaNeuroplasticity is the now proven principle that we can change the structure and function of our brain throughout our lives and that our thoughts, emotions, and behavior are the primary means of doing that. Supplements help too.

Best. News. Ever. Right?

The discovery of neuroplasticity has led to the explosion of natural nootropics. Nootropics are substances that can be taken to improve mental performance in healthy people (one of the most well-known nootropics is the caffeine found in the beloved cup of morning coffee) and they are most often used to boost memory, focus, creativity, intelligence, and motivation. Nootropics may also reduce age-related declines in brain function. Bacopa, vitamin B1, magnesium threonate, lutein, and phosphatidylserine (PS) are all examples of nootropics.

Try this trend: Himalaya Bacopa and Country Life’s Sharp Thought contain nutrients that support cognition, memory, attention, a calm mood and more!


6. Promoting the Body’s Ability to Heal Itself

Gaia Elderberry SyrupIn 2019, we’ll see companies meet the demands of consumers who want to eschew the use of over-the-counter (OTC) meds and prescription drugs for natural remedies that support the body in healing. Instead of opening the medicine cabinet, people will use a combination of lifestyle choices, herbal remedies, and vitamin supplementation to support the body in times of discomfort, whether that discomfort comes from the common cold, digestive issues, or inflammatory pain.

Immune support remedies like mushrooms, elderberry, manuka honey throat sprays, and natural zinc lozenges will dominate. Additionally, we’ll see more alternatives to common OTC remedies and prescription drugs for digestive discomfort and general pain management. 2019 will be the year of supporting the structure and function of the body in a multitude of ways with beneficial natural remedies.

Try this trend: Our customers’ favorite natural remedies include Gaia Herbs’ Elderberry Syrup and Manuka Guard’s Manuka Honey Cough Syrup.


7. Green Beauty Boom

Dr. Bronners Organic Sugar SoapA recent study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology revealed that the products we slather on our bodies daily, like shampoo and deodorant, can create plumes of emissions. The researchers, who originally set out to record emissions around the city of Boulder, discovered strange spikes in the data, especially during the morning commute, that wasn’t coming from cars. Instead, the compounds were from personal care products that emit D5 siloxane, a chemical emollient found in certain body care products. That’s right, your deodorant and lotion are potentially as toxic as your tailpipe.

Consumers are becoming more aware of the slew of chemicals that come from body care products, including ubiquitous endocrine disruptors, and are looking for products with ingredient lists that don’t require a chemistry degree to understand. Tried-and-true companies like Dr. Bronner's have paved the way to simplified body care ingredient panels, while new companies are continually offering clean products to meet expanding consumer demands.

Try this trend: To participate in the green beauty boom, try Dr. Bronner’s sugar soaps and body lotions, Thayer’s Witch Hazel Rose Water Toner and Schmidt’s deodorants.


8. Ingredient Lists > Nutrition Facts

Kicao barsThere’s no question that many of us have a rocky relationship with food. We’ve likely all grappled with counting calories and grams of fat, but in 2019, a new paradigm is bound to free us of some of the struggles we’ve formed around food, nutrition, and our health every day. This year the nutrition labels will be demoted and instead, consumers will read and make food choices based on ingredient labels. The days of counting every. single. calorie. are nearing an end. Rather than glorifying macronutrient logs and adhering to extremely strict dietary guidelines, 2019 will foster a friendlier relationship with food that focuses on simple, clean ingredients in products made with whole, real foods.

Try this trend: Some of the tastiest companies paving the way are snack producers. Simple Mills Fine Ground Sea Salt Almond Flour Crackers are a favorite with a simple ingredient list that carries a nut and seed flour blend, tapioca, cassava, organic sunflower oil, salt, and herbs. Ah Cacao offers a different kind of indulgence in its chocolate bars made with cacao sourced directly from Mexican growers who practice organic growing techniques. With just a few simple ingredients, each of Ah Cacao bars are too good not to try—and Natural Grocers is the only place in the US where you will find them. ({N}power members, keep your eyes peeled for a special on these delectable bars in January!)


9. Lutein Reigns Supreme Over Blue Light

luteinBlue light—from our smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, and even light bulbs—has become ubiquitous, and a growing body of research is showing that all of this blue-light exposure damages the retina of the eye and can lead to age-related macular degeneration1 (i.e., the leading cause of blindness in older adults).2 Excessive blue light also disrupts the circadian rhythm which plays many roles in health, including regulating the sleep-wake cycle, hormone balance, digestion, and body temperature.6 Enter lutein. Lutein preferentially accumulates in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision, where it filters damaging blue light and increases macular pigment density.7 And because the thickness of the retina is directly related to how well our brains age,3 lutein also benefits the brain (see nootropics above). In 2019, lutein will solidify its role as protector of the eyes and the brain.

Try this trend: Try Jarrow Formulas Lutein, it supports visual function and macular health!


10. Love Your Liver

Natural Grocers Milk ThistleWhile it shouldn’t be "trendy" to have fatty liver disease, unfortunately the disease is trending. In 2018 we were shocked to learn that millennials are getting fatty liver disease faster than any other age group, and according to the National Institutes of Health, up to 40 percent of U.S. adults have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.8 Thus, we believe that loving your liver will be on trend in 2019. Consumers will clean up their diets, ditching culprits like high fructose corn syrup and vegetable oils, and will embrace “mocktails” to reduce alcohol consumption. We also predict an increase in sales of herbal supplements that support liver health, like milk thistle and berberine, as well as MCT oil, which has been shown to reduce fat in the liver.4

Try this trend: Try the Natural Grocers Brand Milk Thistle, to support detoxification, healthy levels of fat in the liver and overall liver health!



The Trend to Know About

Eating Sustainably-Raised Meat and Dairy Will Help Heal Combat Climate Change

Thousand Hills Grass Fed BeefIt’s become common knowledge that the conventional animal agriculture industry contributes to global warming in a very big way. At Natural Grocers we agree that there’s nothing more important than your food choices, especially for the health of the planet, and evidence is mounting that well-managed, pasture-based dairy and 100% grass-fed cows can prevent and potentially reverse climate change. The person most responsible for bringing these insights to life is Allan Savory, who developed holistic management. Savory observed that livestock, when managed correctly, are the key to a land-healing approach that has now been applied to millions of acres around the world. The natural grazing behaviors of ruminants contribute to promoting healthy soil that has the ability to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Healthy soil also holds more moisture, which further contributes to the health of the ecosystems in which ruminants graze.

In 2019 consumers will hear and learn more about managed grazing and how it contributes to rebuilding healthy soil that can sequester carbon dioxide, helping to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere, becoming a vital tool in our fight against global climate change.1

We strongly believe that our food choices have the potential to affect real change, and one of the most measurable ways to support the health of the planet is to support farmers practicing holistic land management

Try this trend: Try Thousand Hills Ground Beef and other products available in our stores!



  5. Eye (Lond). 2018 May;32(5):992-1004. doi: 10.1038/s41433-018-0044-0. Epub 2018 Mar 26. What do we know about the macular pigment in AMD: the past, the present, and the future. Arunkumar R, Calvo CM, Conrady CD1, Bernstein PS.
  6. Mol Vis. 2016 Jan 24;22:61-72. eCollection 2016. Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology. Tosini G, Ferguson I, Tsubota K.
  7. Nutrients. 2013 May; 5(5): 1823–1839. The Role of Lutein in Eye-Related Disease. Keyvan Koushan, Raluca Rusovici, Wenhua Li, Lee R. Ferguson, and Kakarla V. Chalam.