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What makes superfoods super

13 Dec, 2010

Source: Dr Red Nutraceuticals

Australia and New Zealand's food industry watchdog is considering a new code that would allow food growers and manufacturers to make health claims about products provided they can support them with scientific evidence.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) will complete its first report into the proposal in April 2011. Under current law, it is illegal to make a claim on a food linking it to the reduction of risk of a serious disease.

Greg Jardine, technical director of health food group Dr Red Nutraceuticals, says food scientists have recognised the health benefits of certain foods for years.

"A lot has happened in food research over the past 20 or 30 years, but the law hasn't changed," Mr Jardine says.

"We may well have research that shows a certain food can help with a certain condition, but currently, we are not allowed to say that.

"We have had the technology to reduce blood pressure using food for the past 5 or 6 years, but we can't communicate that. It is highly restrictive."

He said the new FSANZ code would lead to better scientific studies as food manufacturers would have to prove their claims using evidence-based research.

A big problem with current labelling laws regarding health claims is they are not well enforced.

This report will help make sure there is a proper definition around super foods. Namely what makes them super? Where is the evidence-based research into their properties?

Some superfood claims:

Rutin: Known as a glycoside, it is found in onions, buckwheat, asparagus, citrus fruits and rinds, and berries such as mulberries and cranberries.
What it does: Helps halt obesity.

Cacao beans: Used in chocolate, contains three neurotransmitters.
What it does: Linked with promoting a healthy mood and positive mental state.

Red wine: Skin of red grapes and red wine contains resveratrol.
What it does: Resveratrol can slow the progress of many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, inflammation and cardiovascular disease.

Green tea: Contains antioxidants.
What it does: Reduces cardiovascular diseases, cholesterol levels and the risk of obesity, fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.

Purple carrots: Ancient version of the contemporary orange carrot.
What it does: High in anti-inflammatory properties, can help sufferers of arthritis and back pain, reduces the risk of cancer.

Olive leaf extract: Antioxidant capacity almost double green tea extract.
What it does: Anti-inflammatorily properties, effective for weight loss, reducing blood pressure and preventing diabetes.

Chia seeds: Native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala.
What it does: Helps lower the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Blueberries: Contain resveratrol.
What it does: Slows the progress of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, inflammation and heart disease.

Broccoli: Contains vitamin C, folic acid and carotenoids.
What it does: Enhances immune system, may prevent some cancers.

Citrus fruits: Contains rutin (in the rind), high in vitamin C.
What it does: Enhances iron absorption and reduces the risk of heart attack.

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