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Do superfoods really give you superpowers?

Açaí berries, avocado and chia seeds are very special exotic foods which are also known as superfoods. Lauded as a healthy trend for years, those foods described as superfoods promise an extraordinarily positive effect on our immune system or our body in general. To some they are an anti-ageing miracle. But what’s behind the big words? What are the best superfoods? Which nutrients make them an indispensable part of a healthy diet? And are there regional foods that offer an alternative to the more exotic ones?

Who invented superfoods?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines superfood as: “a food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being.”

The idea of designating foods such as goji berries as superfoods was spread by – no surprise here – the marketing departments of food companies.

Which foods count as superfoods?

Weil der Begriff nicht geschützt ist, kann theoretisch jedes Lebensmittel als Superfood deklariert werden. Tatsächlich haben viele Superfoods eine positive Wirkung auf unseren Körper. Wir haben für dich eine Superfood-Liste mit wertvollen Inhaltsstoffen und deren Superkraft erstellt:

SuperfoodOriginNutrientsTouted superpower
Açaí berryRain forest, particularly the Amazon regionCalcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, particularly high amounts of vitamin CLarge amount of antioxidants*
AcerolaBrazil, Mexico, Jamaica, FloridaCalcium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, protein, vitamin B1, B2, C, provitamin AAnti-inflammatory
AroniaNorth AmericaBeta-carotene, calcium, folic acid, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamin ELarge amount of antioxidants*, anti-inflammatory, lowers cholesterol levels
AvocadoMexico, Peru, IsraelMany valuable fats, vitamin E, B6, provitamin AThe large amounts of unsaturated fatty acids are, for example, recommended as part of a healthy diet for the heart
Chia seedsMexico and Central AmericaFibre, protein, omega-3 fatty acidsQuickly provide a long-lasting feeling of fullness
Goji berriesChinaIron, potassium, vitamin CHelps against high blood pressure and exhaustion and supports the immune system
MatchaJapanCalcium, copper, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, E, C and KWakes you up and relaxes you at the same time
MoringaTropics and subtropicsCalcium, magnesium phosphorus potassium, sodium, sulphurStrengthens the immune system and boosts circulation and metabolism
QuinoaSouth America, particularly the AndesAmino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassiumTrue powerhouse
SpirulinaTropics and subtropicsCalcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus potassium, zincStrengthens the immune system
*Antioxidants are molecules that protect the body from harmful free radicals (i.e. aggressive metabolic products) – an excessively high number of free radicals can cause cell damage. In turn, this can encourage illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart diseases. The effect of antioxidants in the body is controversial. While they are certainly part of a healthy diet, there is no concrete evidence that the consumption of antioxidants protects us from diseases.

Environmental impact of exotic superfoods

As these trend foods do not grow in Europe, they need to be flown or shipped halfway around the world. The long transport routes are one reason for the bad environmental footprint of superfoods. In addition, the rising demand leads to a large monoculture, the increased use of pesticides and the destruction of rain forests. As a result, endangered animals lose their habitat and considerable damage is done to the climate.

In countries already suffering from water shortages, the water is (often illegally) used for the extensive cultivation of avocado, for example. Growing 1 kg of avocados requires 1,000 l of water. In comparison, 1 kg of potatoes grown in Germany only require 8 l of water (given a normal amount of rain).

There are therefore many reasons to choose regional foods as an alternative – which isn’t all that difficult, by the way:

SuperfoodRegional superfood
Açaí berryBlackcurrant, blueberry, elderberry, sour cherry
AcerolaBlackcurrant, rosehip, sea buckthorn
AroniaBlueberry, elderberry
AvocadoHigh-quality plant oils, nuts (especially tree nuts)
ChiasamenLinseed
GojibeereBlackcurrant, raspberry
MatchaChamomile, dandelion, rosehip
MoringaDairy products, fresh herbs, fruit, garlic, nuts, onions, vegetables
QuinoaGreen spelt, spelt, millet
SpirulinaCheese, eggs, green vegetables, meat, nuts, pulses, wholegrain

Recipe ideas with superfoods

In our recipe collection, you will find countless healthy, sugar-free recipes with unusual ingredients. Use our superfood recipes as an inspiration for your healthy diet:

Raspberry oat bars (vegan)
Pound cake with poppy seeds and raspberries 
Cucumber and matcha power drink (vegan)
Wholegrain scones and quick strawberry jam
Yoghurt oat porridge with raspberries
Fresh chia seed and lemon pudding (vegan)
Green smoothie
Raspberry smoothie bowl

Conclusion

The effect of superfoods may not be scientifically proven, but these special foods can still make a valuable contribution to a varied and healthy diet. Let us protect the climate by keeping regional superfoods in mind when shopping for groceries. Preferably buy foods – with or without superpowers – seasonally from a regional vendor that you trust.