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Superfoods are on everyone’s lips in Finland. Are they yet another curiosity for health enthusiasts, or a thing that works for everyone?

SUPERFOODS are organically produced and highly nutritious natural foods. They are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The more organic and fresher, the closer to super. The term is not protected, so anyone can claim their products to be “superfoods.” Because of this, many so-called superfood products are not really superior to your average eats in any way.

Superfoods are on everyone’s lips in Finland. Are they yet another curiosity for health enthusiasts, or a thing that works for everyone?

SUPERFOODS are organically produced and highly nutritious natural foods. They are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The more organic and fresher, the closer to super. The term is not protected, so anyone can claim their products to be “superfoods.” Because of this, many so-called superfood products are not really superior to your average eats in any way.

Luckily, quality speaks for itself. “Once you eat superfoods you don’t need to ask what a superfood is,” explains Olli Posti, a Finnish nutrition blogger. “The taste and the feeling you get will tell you that you ate something super.”

Ancient civilisations around the world have always had foods they respected, even worshipped. The Indians of South America grew maca root, inca berries and cocoa beans. People in Tibet and China have sworn by goji berries for thousands of years. “Now, for the first time, people have access to the best foods from every culture,” says Posti. “These are the real superfoods.”

Health boosters

“People in ancient cultures couldn’t do scientific research,” says Arto Ranta-aho, managing director of Ekomarket Ruohonjuuri, an ecological products store chain. “But they noticed that superfoods supported their health.” Unfortunately, many positive effects on health have yet to be proved by scientists.

Posti does not wait for scientific evidence. He relies on first-hand experience, claiming that superfoods have helped him to recover from asthma and even multiple sclerosis.

“Superfoods support the body’s own healing processes,” explains Posti. “The most important thing is to turn healthy eating into an automation. This is exactly what superfoods do. They give your body the nutrients it needs, so you become addicted in a positive way.”

Everyone seems to be fussing about superfoods. Nutritional trend-setters praise them, but will the trendiness drive ordinary consumers away? Ranta-aho does not think so. “After all, these foods have been around for a long time. Now they have simply been rediscovered.” He believes they will slowly become a part of the Finnish way of eating, and the fuss will quiet down.

Olli Posti’s Green Smoothie

½ bunch of fresh green herbs, e.g. dill or basil

1 organic banana

1-2 bags of domestically grown frozen blueberries

1 tbs. honey

3 dl water

goji berries

Put all ingredients except the goji into a blender. Mix until smooth.

Pour into a glass, sprinkle some goji berries on top. Ready to serve.

Another flip side of the superfood coin is their price. Buying them in large amounts can take its toll on your wallet. Fortunately, superfoods come from many sources, some of them native to your backyard. Posti mentions the nettle. Rich in vitamin C, calcium and iron, it is a true Finnish superfood – and free to be picked.

Wanted: simple form, good quality

The modern consumer wants good quality food in a simple form. Superfoods meet this demand, which is one of the reasons for their popularity. “You can sprinkle your yoghurt with goji berries,” explains Ranta-aho. He usually eats superfoods with his breakfast. “It’s a very quick way to add some nutrients to your meal.”

For beginners, Posti recommends a green smoothie. Green because herbs are one of the main ingredients. Most of the ingredients are not superfoods, so the smoothie balances the strength of any superfood included. “It gives you a lot of energy,” adds Posti. “It may even feel weird at first, because we are so used to getting sleepy after every meal.”

Eating superfoods does not mean something else must be abandoned. However, superfoods may surprise the eater. “Your appetite grows as you eat,” laughs Ranta-aho. “You might find yourself paying more attention to how you live.”

Again, Posti has a first-hand experience. Superfoods made him drop pizza and candy. He just did not feel like eating them anymore.

Listening to your body

According to Posti, industrial processing makes most modern-day food products lose nutritional value. Used to eating this kind of food, people are often at a loss when they want to try something healthier.

“People hear about superfoods and get excited,” says Posti. “They buy a pack of raw cocoa beans or goji berries, eat them all at once, and feel ill afterwards.” Unrefined and organic, superfoods are so strong that listening to the body’s reactions is a must. “Start by tasting small amounts. If it seems to work for you, you can increase the daily amount.”

There is no final truth about superfoods. Posti repeats how important it is to find out what works for each one of us as an individual. He compares superfoods to quality wines. You can read wine magazines and listen to professionals, but to find a wine that’s best suited for your taste you just have to taste and try them yourself.

Jenni Perälä

Based on an interview by Alisa Nirman on 3.10.2016

Interview

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