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Regional alternatives to superfoods

The term “superfoods” refers to foods that have a high nutrient density and are therefore particularly beneficial for our health. Touted as a miracle cure for diseases and as anti-ageing foods, superfoods promise a healthy glow for our skin, increased energy levels and a vital, strengthened immune system. The trend has now caught on with many health-conscious people and hip superfoods such as chia seeds, avocado and matcha powder are literally on everyone’s lips.

What exactly is behind the superfood hype?

Products such as amaranth, quinoa, goji berries, chia seeds, moringa, açaí, spirulina, aloe vera and avocado, as well as food supplements made from them, are most frequently marketed as superfoods in order to draw attention to their health-promoting ingredients.

The marketing term “superfood” refers to foods with particularly positive effects on health, but is still not a legally protected term. According to the consumer advice center in Germany, the effect of superfoods has not been clearly scientifically proven despite their valuable ingredients. Compared to regional, European foods, superfoods from non-European sources do not have any particular added health value.

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Superfood boom with consequences for people and the environment

Some popular superfoods – such as chia seeds or goji berries – are contaminated with pesticides and harmful substances and are also much more expensive than local products. Certain superfoods are also allergenic and pose a risk of hypersensitivity reactions. Superfoods also have a poor carbon footprint due to long transportation routes and lead to monocultures in some growing regions in order to produce large quantities. In order to achieve high yields, artificial irrigation systems, pesticides and herbicides are usually used, which, however, pollute important bodies of water and drinking water for the local population.

Increasing demand also leads time and again – as in the case of avocados in Mexico – to the clearing of forest areas and thus to the loss of soil fertility and biodiversity. In some growing countries, it is not small farmers who benefit from the boom in demand, but mainly large companies. The rising price of staple foods such as quinoa due to high demand is a major problem for the local population. As a result, they can no longer afford this food and have to switch to other products that do not contain the same range of nutrients.

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Regionality in the shopping cart

In view of the negative consequences of growing superfoods, it is not particularly advisable to consume large quantities of conventional superfoods from overseas. If you still want to buy certain superfoods in the supermarket in the future, you can make sure that certified products with the Fairtrade or organic seal end up in your shopping cart.

To minimize the ecological footprint caused by long transport routes, we recommend buying regional and local superfoods. These have similar and at least as many healthy ingredients and outperform imported goods in terms of quality and freshness.

What alternatives are there to popular superfoods?


Açaí berries are mainly grown in South America and sold in Europe as freeze-dried berry powder. The plant pigment anthocyanin, which is said to protect against cancer, is not only present in açaí berries, but also in our native purple and blue fruits and vegetables. These include berries such as blueberries, sour cherries, blackcurrants, blue grapes and red cabbage.


Avocados are mainly cultivated in Latin and South America, but also in other parts of the world. The poor ecological balance of the avocado is mainly due to the high water consumption in production and the clearing of rainforests. If you are looking for a regional alternative to avocados, you can try walnuts or hemp seeds, for example. Like avocados, these have a high content of unsaturated fatty acids, which in turn have a positive effect on our cardiovascular system.

Chia seeds

Similar to acai and avocados, chia seeds also originate from Latin and South American countries. The protein- and fat-rich seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and are often used as a thickening agent. Local linseed is an ideal regional substitute for chia seeds.

Goji berries

As an alternative to goji berries, which mostly come from China, black and red currants and sea buckthorn berries are a good choice. These contain even more vitamin C than goji berries.

Different regional berries

Ginger and turmeric

Originally grown in Central and South Asia, these spices and medicinal plants are becoming increasingly popular in Europe, but are relatively challenging to grow. For some years now, ginger and turmeric have even been grown in Austria, for example in the Seewinkel region of Burgenland.


You can use carob as a regional alternative to cocoa. Carob is made from the pure pulp of the carob tree fruit in the Mediterranean region. The powder has a fruity, caramel taste and can be used like cocoa powder.

Carob powder


Matcha is finely ground, sweet-tart tasting green tea and originates from Japan. Marketed as a superfood, matcha is said to improve the metabolism and reduce stress, among other things. Regional teas such as camomile, dandelion and rosehip tea have similar health-promoting ingredients to matcha and can be bought locally

Quinoa and amaranth

Quinoa and amaranth have been staple foods in South America for thousands of years. The protein- and iron-rich pseudocereals can be easily replaced by millet, buckwheat, green spelt or oats from the region.


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