What is superfood 1

Superfood - what's the point?

HANOVER / BONN. Expectations for fruits like South American acai berries, pomegranates and Asian goji berries are high. As a so-called superfood, they are supposed to make you fit, slim and healthy. "They can heal, prevent diseases and significantly increase our well-being," says an advertisement for a book about "the 50 best superfoods".

Since the trend spilled over from the USA to Germany a few years ago, more and more exotic foods have been on the shelves of supermarkets under the heading of superfood. Numerous chefs have published books of superfood recipes. But what exactly is superfood?

No legally binding definition

There is no legally binding definition of what foods can be called that, as Antje Gahl from the German Nutrition Society in Bonn explains. "In general, superfoods include foods that are particularly rich in nutrients, especially fruit and vegetables."

According to this, superfood is often rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which can have health-promoting effects. Gahl names goji berries, chia seeds, acai berries and pomegranates as typical representatives. "But more and more local products such as blueberries, nettles and rose hips are being added."

From the point of view of the Bremen consumer advice center, it is no coincidence that foods from far away countries in particular are considered superfoods. The combination of exoticism and health benefits many people, says Regina Aschmann, who advises those interested in nutrition. Such fruits are not necessary for health, however. "Anyone who eats a varied diet of healthy, local foods does not need exotic superfoods."

Much has not been proven

What's the point of superfood?

Here is a short list of the three most important facts about the effects of superfoods:

1. Superfoods, which include goji, pomegranate, acai and chia seeds, are generally rich in active ingredients, i.e. they contain many vitamins and minerals.

2. There is no reliable scientific evidence that superfood products have any particular health effects beyond a normal healthy diet. There is also no evidence of a slimming effect.

3. There are good local alternatives to exotic superfood products: flaxseed instead of chia, blackcurrants instead of goji or local blueberries instead of acai berries. Advantage: lower costs, less risk from possible (unknown) chemical pollution from imports from abroad.

According to Aschmann, products from other continents harbor some dangers. "With exotic foods, there is a much greater risk that the specifications will not be complied with despite the organic seal," she explains. Advertising messages about the health benefits - for example that pomegranates help with menopausal symptoms and prostate cancer, should be treated with caution. "The blue of the sky is promised and much has not been proven."

According to Gahl, exotic superfoods can enrich the menu, but they have no added health benefits compared to German fruit and vegetables. The nutritionist also points out that the long transport routes for exotic foods can have a negative impact on the nutrient content and the climate balance.

Many nutrition-conscious people are now aware that flax seeds can be a good and cheaper alternative to chia seeds. According to data from the market research institute Nielsen, sales in food retail and drugstores with exotic seeds and chia products fell by almost 17 percent in Germany from March 2017 to March 2018

Latest trend: pomegranate

Flaxseed sales grew approximately 23 percent during this period. "There are always new trends," says Ulrike Br├╝ckner-Christoph, who heads an analytics department at Nielsen. According to her, products that contain pieces, flavor, juice or powder of the exotic superfood fruit pomegranate are currently particularly popular.

There are many alternatives to exotic superfoods. Instead of goji berries, experts recommend black currants, instead of acai berries local blueberries or sour cherries. Federal states with a lot of agriculture like Lower Saxony advertise with "superfood" like apples, kale and spinach.

The long list that TourismusMarketing Niedersachsen GmbH has published on the Internet also includes free food. "Blanched or cooked, as a soup or in a smoothie - this superfood shouldn't be ignored on your next excursion into nature," says the stinging nettle, for example. There is nothing there about their possible pollutant content. (dpa)