Chia, goji & co. -- BfR consumer monitor special superfoods

November 25, 2020

The term "superfood" is not legally regulated. Superfoods, however, are often referred to as foods whose ingredients are considered particularly beneficial to health - for example, due to their high content of vitamins or minerals and fibre. Only 8 percent of respondents associate health risks with the consumption of superfoods.

"Superfood products are often not sufficiently investigated to be able to evaluate them from a health perspective," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "A balanced and varied diet remains the best basis for staying healthy. This can be supported by the consumption of imported superfoods just as by the consumption of local fruits and vegetables."

Link to the Consumer Monitor special on superfoods:

Link to the superfoods A-Z index:

In Germany, 70 percent of the respondents have already heard of the term "superfood". About half see high health benefits in these foods. The main benefits cited are the content of vitamins, a generally positive effect on the body and a strengthening of the immune system. One third of respondents have superfoods on their menu at least once a week. However, almost 40 percent state that they do not consume any superfoods at all.

Compared to local foods, the majority tend to label imported foods, such as chia seeds, goji berries and quinoa, as superfoods. Yet, local foods often provide comparable health benefits. For example, blackcurrants present an alternative to goji berries due to their high content of vitamin C just as linseed, with its high content of proteins and omega-3 fatty acids, shares similarities with the nutritional profile of chia seeds.

About two out of five respondents consider the health benefits of superfoods to be scientifically proven. Just as many assume that superfood products are tested for health safety before they are available in Germany.

This particularly applies to superfoods that were rarely used for consumption in the European Union before 1997 and are, therefore, considered to be novel foods. They have to go through strict approval procedures, including an official health safety assessment. Thus far, this has applied to chia seeds, for example.

However, some superfood products, such as certain food supplements, consist of extracts or preparations of plant-based superfoods, which may contain potentially harmful substances in concentrated form. The lack of standards in extraction procedures or partly insufficient data from studies can make the health risk assessment of these products difficult. For this reason, they cannot be compared to the plant-based superfoods from which they are derived.

Only 8 percent of respondents believe that superfoods can pose health risks. Even though the positive effect of these foods for the health usually takes centre stage, certain ingredients and contaminants can be harmful to health if consumed excessively. In some cases, superfoods can also trigger intolerances or allergic reactions.

More detailed information on the possible health risks of superfoods can be found at: (in German)
About the BfR Consumer Monitor

Whether antimicrobial resistance, microplastics, salmonella or aluminium in foods - which health risks do the population know about and what is it that worries them? The BfR Consumer Monitor, a representative population survey that has been conducted regularly since 2014, provides answers to these and other questions. To this end, around 1,000 people living in private households in Germany, and who are at least 14 years old, are interviewed by telephone on behalf of the BfR. Furthermore, the BfR conducts representative surveys on individual topics of particular current interest, such as tattoos, e-cigarettes or superfoods.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the German federal government and German federal states ("Laender") on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

BfR Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to