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How "Super" Really Are Superfoods?

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For many people, a healthy diet is very important. Forty eight percent of the population consider foods such as quinoa, chia seeds and goji berries, often advertised as "superfoods", a part of a health-conscious diet. They are perceived to have health-promoting properties, and some are even said to prevent diseases. "The range of so-called superfoods is wide, but there is no scientific or legal definition of the term", says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "In our event, we will take a closer look at the scientific assessment of these foods and discuss the risk perception of the population." "Many so-called superfoods are offered and advertised - often via the internet - with sometimes untenable promises", says BVL President Friedel Cramer. "In such cases, but especially when products could pose a health risk, competent authorities are called upon. How we proceed and what challenges there are will be highlighted by experts at the two-day event."

The range of foods advertised as "superfoods" is diverse. The majority of the population associates them with health benefits, rather than risks. So-called superfoods are mostly plant-based foods that are supposed to have high contents of ingredients such as vitamins, minerals or secondary plant compounds. Additionally, food supplements that contain botanicals or other substances perceived to be beneficial to health are also promoted as superfoods. Contrary to popular belief, these foods, especially in concentrated form, may also pose health risks.

On the occasion of their 20th anniversary, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety are hosting a joint event. In addition to scientific assessment of foods promoted as superfoods, the main topics will be risk perception and regulatory aspects. The overall focus will be on consumer health protection.

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