Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Superfood/Superfruit Definition

Superfood is a term sometimes used to describe food with high phytonutrient content that may confer health benefits as a result. For example, blueberries are often considered a superfood (or superfruit) because they contain significant amounts of antioxidants, anthocyanins, vitamin C, manganese, and dietary fiber.
The term is not in common currency amongst dieticians and nutritional scientists, many of whom dispute the claims made that consuming particular foodstuffs can have a health benefit. There is no legal definition of the term and it has been alleged that this has led to it being over-used as a marketing tool.
Superfruit, a marketing term first used in the food and beverage industry in 2005, refers to a fruit which combines exceptional nutrient richness and antioxidant quality with appealing taste that can stimulate and retain loyalty for consumer products. Some popular fruits like strawberries, blackcurrants, blackberries or oranges are not commonly mentioned as superfruits despite excellent nutritional properties, apparently because they have not been marketed specifically as superfruits.
Keys to marketing a successful superfruit product include the native fruit qualities, scientific evidence supporting a potential health benefit, marketing, protection of intellectual property and developing an appealing strategy to attract consumers. Combined in the right way, these elements may allow a fruit to achieve "critical mass" as a superfruit.
To date, superfruits have been developed mainly as juices, but began in 2007 to appear as single piece products or as ingredients for functional foods, confectioneries and cosmetics. Current industry development includes applications for creating novel consumer products, such as energy drinks, dietary supplements, and flavors with nutrient qualities, e.g. fortified water.
In 2004, the term superfoods was popularized by a best-selling book discussing 14 whole foods with extraordinary nutrition. One – the blueberry – became known as a superfruit when its exceptional antioxidant properties were revealed by publication of United States Department of Agriculture assays on antioxidant strength, the oxygen radical absorbance capacity or ORAC for 100 common foods. Wild blueberries ("lowbush", Vaccinium angustifolium) were at the top of the 2004 rankings for fruit. By refinement of the ORAC assay and new analyses published in 2006-7, other berry fruits such as wolfberry (goji berry), elderberry and cranberry, have superseded blueberries on the antioxidant rankings, attention possibly caused by growing consumer demand for superfruits.
Indicating industry enthusiasm for novel product development, superfruits have been called "the future of health", "fruits of the future" "superheroes of functionality" and "heroes in the natural food marketplace". More than a dozen industry publications on functional foods and beverages have referred to various exotic or antioxidant species as superfruits with estimates for some 10,000 new product introductions in 2007–8.
DataMonitor includes the superfruit category as one of the top 10 global trends in consumer products for 2008.

Commonly mentioned superfruits
Format: common name, botanical name, main country(ies) of origin supplying the commercial market
-    Acai (Euterpe oleracea), Brazil, Venezuela
-    Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium and Vaccinium corymbosum), North Europe, Russia, Canada (Nova Scotia, Quebec, British Columbia), United States (Maine, New Jersey, Michigan), Chile
-   Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), North Europe, Russia, United States (Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, New Jersey), Canada (Quebec, British Columbia), Chile
-    Goji berry (wolfberry, Lycium barbarum), China
-    Grape (red, Vitis vinifera), parts of central Asia, Europe (native), United States (California)
-    Mango (Mangifera indica), Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, South Pacific
-    Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia)
-    Noni (Morinda citrifolia), Southeast Asia, Australia
-    Pomegranate (Punica granatum), Mediterranean Region, United States (California)
-    Sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides), Asia, Europe
Apples (Malus domestica), oranges (Citrus sinensis), tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) and common berries, such as strawberries (Fragaria vesca), red raspberries (Rubus idaeus) and blackberries (Rubus ursinus) used for a large number of consumer products, achieve many of the criteria to be superfruits. They are, however, commonly known in the public and have not attracted interest as novelty ingredients, so are not usually included in industry reports as superfruits.

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