Five hot natural & organic product trends coming your way
From new coconut concoctions to powdered leaves from a "miracle tree", a diabetic-friendly sweetener to Mongolia's first organic skincare range, the recent Natural & Organic Products Asia expo offered a glimpse of the latest trends for the health-obsessed.
Demand for natural and organic products is booming in the region and at last week's Natural & Organic Products Asia expo, we got a glimpse - and taste - of the latest products coming Hong Kong's way.
Thousands of brands from more than 250 exhibitors from 25 countries were on display in the event hall at the Convention and Exhibition Centre. This year's trade fair was 70 per cent bigger than last year's inaugural event. Here are a few trends that stood out.
New coconut concoctions
Just when you thought the coconut had exhausted its versatility, a new product pops up.
Nuco, a Californian company that uses Philippines coconuts, offers coconut mayo (made with coconut oil, eggs, vinegar and salt) and coconut vinegar, an alternative to apple cider vinegar made by fermenting the sap from coconut tree blossoms.
If you're not a fan of coconut's flavour but want to reap its healthful properties, Royal Green Naturals has odourless coconut oil in pure form as well as flavoured with spices or herbs.
And, in time for the season, local company Green Vitamin has introduced raw organic coconut mooncakes. Chewy and sweet, they come in white almond, vanilla chocolate, green tea, strawberry and cinnamon flavours - and taste nothing like the traditional mooncake. Buy a box of six for HK$388 at greenvitamin.hk
Sweetness and lite: yacon syrup
Diabetics can have their sweet and eat it - if it's yacon syrup - according to producers of this alternative sweetener made from a South American tuber.
Known as the "pear of the earth", yacon is high in a type of fibre that isn't easily digested by the human body and ends up getting fermented by bacteria in the gut. This allows yacon to practically rank zero in the glycaemic index scale, meaning it may be a good sugar substitute for diabetics.
This also means that it could boost feelings of satiety and aid weight loss. It has 20 calories a tablespoon, compared with about 49 for the same amount of sugar and 64 for honey.
Yacon is also said to be a prebiotic that increases the overall gastrointestinal tract health and supports the body's immune system.
Use the syrup to sweeten anything from sauces to dressings, smoothies to baked goods. I had a few small drops of it on my tongue and found it too sweet for my liking.
The "miracle tree"
Native to Africa and Asia, the moringa tree is prized for every part, from the seeds that are used for purifying water, to the medicinal properties of the bark, roots and flowers.
The leaves are said to be exceptionally nutrient-dense. Enterprising companies have now harvested the leaves, dried them and pounded them into a powder that can be blended into smoothies, sprinkled over salads, stirred into soups and sauces, and added to baked goods.
Moringa tastes similar to spinach. It's a rich source of iron, vitamins A, E, K, B2 and B6, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Surprisingly, it's also an excellent source of protein - it's 25 per cent protein - and contains all nine essential amino acids. It has six times the antioxidants of goji berries, which is thought to be good for skin health and anti-ageing.
Mongolian skincare line
Mention Mongolia and a pristine landscape and natural beauty come to mind. Khulan Davaadorj has taken Mongolia's natural gifts and turned them into an organic skincare line, Lhamour (lhamour.mn).
Davaadorj, who used to work in renewable energy, founded the company in 2014 and the expo was her first foray beyond Mongolia. Her products, such as soaps, bath bombs and candles, are made with ingredients such as sea buckthorn, yak milk and a special stone salt.
Another exotic ingredient is sheep's tail fat oil, which is traditionally both eaten and used topically to soothe inflammation. The oil is said to be especially nourishing and moisturising. It's so gentle that an allergy treatment hospital in Mongolia started using the soaps on their patients with conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Super rice: Jasberry
This new variety of wholegrain rice is a cross between Thai jasmine rice and Thai black rice. It claims to pack 2.8 times more antioxidants than blueberries and 10 times more antioxidants than green tea. It offers an alternative for the health conscious, and also helps alleviate poverty among small-scale farmers who earn more from growing Jasberry rice than conventional varieties.
Jasberry rice is said to also boast more vitamin B, D, E, omega 3, iron, beta-carotene and gamma oryzanol than ordinary rice. The purple grains are also sure to add colourful appeal to any meal.