Superfoods

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Superfoods
Superfoods

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Video: 17 SUPERFOODS You Should Make A Part Of Your Daily Diet 2023, January
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Nutritional trend: "Superfood"

The term "superfood" summarizes individual foods that are said to have particular health benefits. They are touted as miracle cures, promise health, energy and beauty, and sometimes even alleviate health problems. Since they often draw attention to themselves in marketing with mystical and promising stories, they are sometimes particularly attractive. This almost dwarfs regional foods. But are “superfoods” actually healthier? Magazines, TV magazines and blogs are reporting on it more and more. Because many of them promise to be true all-rounders.

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“Superfoods”, sometimes even called “ultrafood”, go hand in hand with other nutrition trends such as the increased interest in vegan nutrition, “raw food” or detox. What they all have in common is the need of many people to do something good for their body. In the meantime, “superfoods” are no longer exclusively available in health food and health food stores, but also in supermarkets.

What are "Superfoods"?

There is no specific or legally binding technical definition for the term “superfood”. It is usually understood to mean foods that, due to their nutritional content, are associated with greater health benefits than other foods. “Superfoods” are said to have immune-boosting effects, anti-aging effects, increased performance and the prevention of certain diseases (e.g. cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes). They should also have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, detoxify or even “purify” the body. Overall, the impression is given that “superfoods” outperform “normal” foods and are something special and a must for better health. However, there is largely a lack of scientific evidence for the health-promoting properties.

Note No disease-related information on the effect, prevention, cure or treatment of diseases may be given on food (eg "protects against colon cancer"). Only health-related information such as vitamins and minerals as well as fatty acids is possible, provided that these ingredients are sufficiently high in the food.

Are "superfoods" healthier than conventional foods?

All “superfoods” have one thing in common: a single food cannot be classified as healthy on its own. “Superfoods” can only make a contribution as part of a balanced and varied diet, but cannot replace it. "Superfoods" sometimes have a high content of valuable ingredients such as vitamins, minerals and secondary plant substances. However, none of these substances is exclusively reserved for a single “superfood”, but can also be found in domestic foods. “Superfoods” or “extra healthy” foods consumed in excess do not show any added health benefits compared to the large number of domestic vegetables and fruits.

If you put together your diet in a balanced way, you can confidently do without well-traveled “superfoods” such as moringa, acai berries and the like. A balanced mixed diet provides the body with high-quality protein and essential fatty acids, protects the body against free radicals with antioxidants and supplies it with all the important nutrients in sufficient quantities. It delivers everything that “superfoods” pride themselves on. The Austrian Food Pyramid offers a clear orientation for a balanced diet.

Note A healthy diet should be varied and plant-based, including rich in fruit, vegetables, pulses and whole grain products. It does not make sense to rely on the health benefits of a few foods touted as "superfoods".

What should be considered when taking "superfoods"?

“Superfoods”, which are eaten fresh, dried or as puree, for example, can contribute to a balanced diet and complement it. It should be noted that exotic foods, regardless of whether they are taken straight or as an extract, carry a certain risk of hypersensitivity reactions or allergies. Interactions with drugs are also possible. In particular, caution should be exercised with concentrates taken in isolation in the form of food supplements.

Note Individual advice from appropriate specialist staff such as a doctor or pharmacist is essential before taking food supplements. Individual nutritional advice from a dietician can also be useful. In any case, it is not advisable to take food supplements in an uncontrolled manner.

From an ecological point of view (e.g. long transport routes) and in terms of freshness, it should be questioned whether food from distant countries is preferable to local regional and seasonal goods. In addition, the agricultural cultivation and production methods in the distant countries of origin are not known in detail and are sometimes not subject to the strict quality and hygiene standards that are common in Europe. Some of the products are harvested early, heavily processed and stored for a long time. It is therefore questionable what remains of the advertised ingredients in the end product.

Which foods are considered "superfoods"?

There is no clear definition of which foods fall under the term “superfood”. Nevertheless, exotic fruits, vegetables, berries, seeds or sprouts as well as algae and teas are often declared as “superfoods”. Popular “superfoods” include acai, algae, aloe vera, chia, chlorella, goji, maqui, moringa and noni. The offer is growing steadily. They are mostly offered in dried and / or ground form. Here they are used, for example, as an addition to cereal flakes, mueslis, yoghurts and for nibbling or snacking. Some products can also be taken as juices, drinks, tea infusions, as additives in foods (e.g. chia seeds in bread rolls) or partly as food supplements, for example in the form of capsules.

Local "superfood"

A new trend is now emerging. Because local and regional “superfoods” are also gaining in importance. The local “superfoods” include all kinds of fruit and vegetables (e.g. beetroot, spinach, nettle, broccoli) and legumes (beans, lentils, soy, etc.). The following applies: the more colorful, the better. For example, instead of the exotic ancari berries, local dark berries (e.g. blackberries, elderberries, blueberries, cherries, red grapes) can be used as “superfoods”. Also herbs, whole grain cereals (wheat, rye, oats etc.), nuts and seeds (whale and hazelnuts etc.), flax seeds, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds etc. as well as vegetable oils (sunflower, rapeseed, corn germ, flax -, walnut oil etc.) are part of the local “superfood”.

You can find out which health-promoting ingredients domestic fruit and vegetables have to offer in the seasonal calendar for fruit and vegetables. Here you will also find an extensive collection of healthy recipes. In our database of herbs and spices you will find interesting information about basil, cress and many other (wild) herbs in the profiles.

Secondary plant substances (e.g. polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins, phytoestrogens and many more) contained in plant-based foods (e.g. fruit, vegetables, legumes, cereals, etc.) have various health-promoting effects. You can find out how they affect health and where they occur under Phytochemicals: Occurrence and effects.

For more information, see Prevention with Diet.

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