Truths and myths about superfoods in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic

Abdo Hassoun, Rania Harastani, Sandeep Jagtap, Hana Trollman, Guillermo Garcia-Garcia, Nour M.H. Awad, Oscar Zannou, Charis M. Galanakis, Gulden Goksen, Gulzar Ahmad Nayik, Asad Riaz, Sajid Maqsood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Nowadays, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, consumers increasingly seek foods that not only fulfill the basic need (i.e., satisfying hunger) but also enhance human health and well-being. As a result, more attention has been given to some kinds of foods, termed “superfoods,” making big claims about their richness in valuable nutrients and bioactive compounds as well as their capability to prevent illness, reinforcing the human immune system, and improve overall health. This review is an attempt to uncover truths and myths about superfoods by giving examples of the most popular foods (e.g., berries, pomegranates, watermelon, olive, green tea, several seeds and nuts, honey, salmon, and camel milk, among many others) that are commonly reported as having unique nutritional, nutraceutical, and functional characteristics. While superfoods have become a popular buzzword in blog articles and social media posts, scientific publications are still relatively marginal. The reviewed findings show that COVID-19 has become a significant driver for superfoods consumption. Food Industry 4.0 innovations have revolutionized many sectors of food technologies, including the manufacturing of functional foods, offering new opportunities to improve the sensory and nutritional quality of such foods. Although many food products have been considered superfoods and intensively sought by consumers, scientific evidence for their beneficial effectiveness and their “superpower” are yet to be provided. Therefore, more research and collaboration between researchers, industry, consumers, and policymakers are still needed to differentiate facts from marketing gimmicks and promote human health and nutrition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-602
Number of pages18
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Volume64
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Active compounds
  • consumer’s health
  • coronavirus
  • emerging technologies
  • fourth industrial revolution
  • functional foods
  • healthy diet
  • immune system
  • nutritional quality
  • sensory properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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