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Superfoods as a basis
Superfoods are in the truest sense of the word, on everyone’s lips. But what makes superfoods? And are they as remarkable as it seems? The Superfood-hype has generated a flood of information and therefore, it is important to look at scientific data. This because even though some superfoods might be overrated, others are definitely worthy of the name. Which foods these are and why they are incorporated in UR, can be found in this article.
What is a superfood? The term ‘superfood’ is actually purely a marketing term since it has not been legally defined yet. However, in the meantime, a general understanding of this term has been established. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a ‘superfood’ as “a nutrient-rich food that is considered to be particularly beneficial for health and well-being”.
Do superfoods have to be exotic?
The hype surrounding chia, açaí and co. gives the impression that superfoods inevitably have to come from distant or exotic countries. That is not necessarily true. In Europe as well, there are numerous foods that are in no way inferior to exotic foods in terms of nutritional value. However, since these are well-known, they are not easy to market.
Imagine starting a hype in Latin America about the “exotic European superfoods”, for example, flax seeds and blueberries. To remain very clear: broccoli from your home garden is also a superfood according to the definition mentioned above. It complies with this definition just as much as flax seeds, blueberries, chia seeds and açaí berries do.
There are regional alternatives for numerous exotic superfoods. For example, exotic chia seeds could easily be replaced by flax seeds, which can be grown in the EU. Chia seeds from Central America are popular because they contain fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds provide for a very similar range of nutrients, are much cheaper and have a smaller ecological footprint of transport in comparison to its exotic counterpart.
Sustainable and as regional as possible
Not only chia seeds can be replaced by regional flax seeds; wheatgrass can be substituted by broccoli, goji berries by raspberries, quinoa by lentils. Blueberries, for example, have the same level of nutrient density as açaí berries. Those who solely rely on exotic superfoods ultimately end up paying more and accepting additional environmental pollution from the transport routes. Luckily, this can often be avoided by searching for regional alternatives.
The environmental aspect in particular, is important here. After all, when you are doing something good for your body by eating superfoods, you should simultaneously avoid creating unnecessary environmental pollution. Therefore, when developing our product, UR, we incorporated the eco-friendly requirement: “As regional as possible”.
In our selection of superfoods, other factors including nutrient content, safety, sustainability and evidence-based efficacy were also decisive in the development process. After months of research and selecting the raw materials, the best superfood-mix worldwide was created. Here is a summary of our top five and their working mechanisms:
Broccoli: No more calcium deficiency
Everyone knows broccoli and everyone knows it is healthy. After all, broccoli is a vegetable. However, not many know that it has an outstanding level of nutrient density, even compared to other vegetables. Broccoli provides vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and E, as well as minerals potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and sodium. But its calcium content in particular is noteworthy since calcium is usually underrepresented in plant-based foods.
In addition to the vitamins and minerals, of which the effects have been studied very thoroughly, broccoli is also beneficial because it contains a much larger and so far hardly researched group of nutrients: the secondary plant substances. One in particular is of enormous interest in current research, namely sulforaphane.
Various studies have shown that sulforaphane slows down the development of cancer cells. Consuming broccoli regularly can therefore both protect against cancer prophylactically and support cancer therapy. Generated results from studies about breast and prostate cancer are particularly promising. In a Canadian study in particular, it was observed that the metastasis of the tumor in patients with prostate cancer was reduced by 50% after weekly consumption of broccoli. Sulforaphane also shows positive results in the prevention and/or treatment of other diseases, which include: Alzheimer’s and gastric ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
Carefully processed secondary plant substances
Moreover, sulforaphane is broken down when exposed to heat for a long period of time. In addition, it is water-soluble. Thus, when preparing broccoli, you should make sure to work as gently as possible. The broccoli powder in UR was produced by gentle drying and pulverization so that no significant sulforaphane losses occur.
Another secondary plant substance in broccoli, namely quercetin, is gaining popularity in current research. In addition to an anti-carcinogenic effect, there is also evidence of an antioxidant effect. Sulforaphane and quercetin are certainly not the only phytochemicals in broccoli that have significant health benefits. We are curious to see what future knowledge we will obtain from the intensive research that is currently being carried out.
Still, we are still far from a full understanding of the mechanisms of the individual nutrients and their interactions with one another. However, what we do know for sure is that this superfood as a whole has a beneficial effect on our health. Therefore, we do not use a vitamin-mineral-sulforaphane-quercetin mix in UR, but a gently processed, natural broccoli powder instead.
Chlorella: consuming the right type of vitamin B12!
The ‘micronutrient miracle’ Chlorella contains all vitamins and numerous minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium. Its amount of vitamin B12 is simply remarkable. This vitamin is usually found in foods of animal origin, which means that vegans run the risk of a deficiency. Chlorella is one of the few plant sources to provide vitamin B12 in an active, bioavailable form. This cannot be taken for granted because, for example, spirulina algae have been found to contain an inactive form of vitamin B12, a so-called pseudo-vitamine.
However, the high level of micronutrients in Chlorella algae alone does not make it qualified enough to be selected for our UR project. An additional beneficial effect on our health is required and the Chlorella algae certainly meet this demand. Firstly, Chlorella is able to accelerate the glucose transport from our blood into our liver and muscle cells. This results in energy that is available quicker without spiking our blood glucose levels.
Secondly, it helps to decrease the amounts of fat and cholesterol in our blood, which results in an increasing elasticity of the arteries and therefore slows down the development of cardiovascular diseases. Thirdly, Chlorella strengthens the immune system by stimulating the natural killer cells. Next, Chlorella also has positive effects on the skin, thanks to the Chlorella derived peptide (CDP) it contains. This enzyme can reduce damage to the skin, caused by UV radiation. CDP can therefore naturally protect us from skin cancer and slow down skin aging.
Chlorella: “The Green Blood” that fights against harmful substances
Another advantage of the Chlorella algae is that it contains numerous detoxifying substances such as carotenoids (e.g. lycopene), glycoproteins (e.g. CGF and CVE), glutathione, sporopollenin, detoxifiers and above all: chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is also known as “the green blood”. It binds to harmful substances and effectuates their elimination. For example, chlorophyll binds carcinogenic compounds in the intestine, which results in the creation of insoluble conglomerates, which are then excreted directly, instead of absorbed by the body. Therefore, chlorophyll can protect against colon and liver cancer, while other organs are free from performing this detoxification themselves.
With this rough overview, it becomes clear that the chlorella algae are rightly classified as a superfood, which makes it an important component in UR. Also, chlorella algae are widely available and can, among other places, be grown in Germany.
Maca: simply remarkable
Maca provides for numerous micronutrients, such as vitamins B2, B3, B6 and C, and minerals potassium, iodine, zinc, iron, copper and manganese. This cruciferous vegetable from the Andes Mountains is famous for being a stimulant and boosting our energy. Maca not only increases performance, it also increases pleasure.
For example, one study showed that a daily intake of maca powder had a positive effect on sexuality in both men and women. Also, the sperm quality was significantly improved. Another study found that consuming maca powder can significantly improve your mood. After taking maca powder, test subjects suffered significantly less from anxiety and depression, compared to subjects in the placebo group. Apart from these study results, there are also initial indications of the beneficial effects of maca on stress, osteoporosis and memory performance.
Maca is one of the few superfoods that has no regional counterpart in Europe. Also, it has not yet been clarified which substances are specifically responsible for the positive effects of Maca powder. However, we do know that these compounds are only formed when cultivated at an altitude of approximately 4000 meters, as is the case in the Peruvian Andes Mountains. The maca roots are then dried and pulverized directly at the point of harvest to significantly reduce the transport weight.
Hemp protein: a prebiotic and perfect protein
Hemp protein contains all of the essential amino acids and is therefore characterized by its high protein biological value (BV). However, opposed to what the name might suggest, hemp protein not only consists of protein. It has a high proportion of insoluble dietary fiber, which, through its fermentation capacity, stimulates the growth of bifidobacteria in the intestine and therefore generates a prebiotic effect.
Hemp protein lowers cholesterol and promotes the breakdown of fat into short-chain fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. An optimal ratio of 3-to-1 of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is present in hemp protein. These polyunsaturated fatty acids can help prevent inflammatory reactions and cardiovascular diseases. Additional positive effects of the hemp protein were proven in Alzheimer’s disease, constipation, dermatological conditions and the immune system.
Next, hemp protein contains other bioactive, protective ingredients, which are currently being investigated in greater detail. Additionally, it contains numerous vitamins and minerals. Its high levels of vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc in particular, are simply remarkable.
Moringa: another miracle of mother nature
By now it has become very clear that our superfoods all provide for considerable amounts of vitamins and minerals. The same goes for the Moringa leaf powder. In addition, Moringa contains all essential amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids and valuable polysterols.
Also, this superfood is gaining popularity in current research, as it is believed that it has anti-inflammatory effects and can lower high blood pressure. Based on promising results generated in previous studies, Moringa is being investigated for its anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, antibiotic, antioxidant, antidiabetic, antipyretic, cancer preventative and beneficial cardiovascular properties.
UR: the perfect combination of only the best
The substances previously described above are only five of many carefully selected superfoods that score well on all points and are therefore incorporated in UR. To conclude, you could say that superfoods can actually be real miracle cures, however, not every food that is declared as superfood should be bought frivolously at high prices.
Since there is no uniform definition of the term, some foods are given the name ‘superfood’ without producing any verifiable effects. Thus, they are often not worth the money. And so, it is important to find out where the products come from (and therefore regional or not), whether the claimed effects have been proven in valid studies, whether there are any cheaper alternatives and whether the quality is optimal.
Finally, an outlook: the subject of nutrition is a subject of constant research. The content of this article is based on present-day knowledge. Future studies might generate countless other findings that might show other beneficial effects of the superfoods or that might even prove an underestimated food to be a true superfood after all.
We at BIOFABRIK keep ourselves up to date with all the rapid developments and new scientific findings in the discipline of nourishment. This way, we want to keep you informed as well about striking and noteworthy news of the remarkable field of nutrition!