Ex­otic and trendy

Su­per­foods get a lot of hype, but do they ful­fil their prom­ises?

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste -

THEY prom­ise to help you be­come a skin­nier, fit­ter and health­ier ver­sion of your­self – if only you would con­sume more of this kind of food ev­ery day.

Su­per­foods are cer­tainly a sexy topic, grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity in re­cent years, with trendy ex­otic foods like goji berries and pomegranates be­com­ing eas­ier to find on su­per­mar­ket shelves far from where they’re orig­i­nally grown.

“They can heal you, pre­vent dis­eases and sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove our well-be­ing,” prom­ises one book about the 50 best su­per­foods.

But an ex­act def­i­ni­tion of what qual­i­fies as a su­per­food doesn’t re­ally ex­ist, says Ger­man nu­tri­tion­ist An­tje Gahl.

“Gen­er­ally, su­per­foods are those that are highly nu­tri­tious, es­pe­cially from the fruits and veg­eta­bles cat­e­gory.”

Su­per­foods are rich in vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and an­tiox­i­dants, which could have health­pro­mot­ing ef­fects. Gahl lists chia seeds, acai berries and pomegranates as clas­sic su­per­food ex­am­ples.

The fact that su­per­foods of­ten come from far-away coun­tries is no co­in­ci­dence, ac­cord­ing to a con­sumer cen­tre in the Ger­man city of Bre­men. The com­bi­na­tion of ex­otic and healthy ap­peals to many peo­ple, says nu­tri­tion­ist Regina Aschmann.

She stresses that you don’t need to eat su­per­foods to be healthy. “As long as you eat a bal­anced diet of healthy, lo­cally-grown foods, you don’t need ex­otic su­per­foods.”

Pro­mo­tional ads promis­ing health ben­e­fits – for ex­am­ple, that pomegranates help against the symp­toms of the menopause and prostate cancer – should be viewed with scep­ti­cism. “Such ads prom­ise ev­ery­thing un­der the sun, but not much of it is proven,” she says.

And while su­per­foods grown abroad can add va­ri­ety to your diet, they aren’t any more nu­tri­tious than home-grown fruits and veg­eta­bles.

As Aschmann points out, su­per­foods lose some nu­tri­tional value dur­ing long ship­ping jour­neys, which also harm the en­vi­ron­ment. –dpa

— dpa

Clock­wise (from left): Pomegranate seeds, goji berries and chia seeds.

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