1. September 2017
Superfood = super good?
With a high content of nutrients, superfoods promise to be particularly healthy and to have an antioxidative effect. In short, they are better than “normal” food, but are also twice as expensive. But are they twice as good?
According to a study conducted by the German consumer center, many of the positive features are largely lacking in scientific evidence. Although possible healing effects could in many cases be demonstrated to a small extent in animal experiments in the laboratory, the question remains whether these results also apply to humans. There is a lack in long-term studies.
Looking at the origin of many superfoods, it quickly becomes clear that the majority come from distant countries. A lot of nutrients are lost due to the long transport distances and the often complex processing procedure. Sometimes many steps are necessary to make the superfoods edible, such as extraction, drying or the addition of sugar or flavoring. In addition, on account of the high demand the products are often harvested too early and shipped in containers for weeks. Which “super” nutrients are still left by the time these foods reach their final destination is questionable. Samples taken by the Chemical and Veterinary Inspectorate Stuttgart found pesticide residues in goji berries. In general, there is no way to exclude the possibility of contamination by pollutants or other agents. The cultivation guidelines and laws often do not meet European standards. In addition, there is always a certain risk of hypersensitivity reactions or allergies of the exotic foods since Europeans are not used to them, as well as possible side effects when consumed in combination with certain medication.
For vegans, the consumption of superfoods makes sense to an extent, as it can compensate the lack of nutrients you would find in certain animal products. Quinoa, for example, has as many usable proteins as the same amount of eggs. Regional sprouts have an extremely high protein content.
Superfoods can contain more healthy ingredients than comparable other foods. However, be careful when buying these products and look at the other ingredients which should be little or not processed at all. Because nowadays it has become a popular PR and marketing tool to label packaged muesli and ready-made smoothies as superfood with promising miraculous effects.
As with many other foodstuffs, it’s all a matter of the quantity we consume. Often the “classic superfoods” such as flaxseeds do just as well as chia seeds. Flax seeds also have high values of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber and promise a comparable effect – but cost only a fifth of their exotic counterparts and do not have to be shipped from overseas.
Conclusion: Don’t fret if you like chia seeds – spread them over your muesli in the morning. But remain realistic. The highly praised ingredients can often also be found in other vegetables and fruits. Superfoods will not immediately make you healthier, slimmer or more vital, but they can support a varied, balanced and healthy diet.