A critical review of superfoods from a holistic nutritional and environmental approach

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Fernández Rios, Ana
Laso, Jara
Hoehn, Daniel
Amo Satién, Francisco José
Abajas, Rebeca
Ortego-Mate, Carmen
Fullana i Palmer, Pere
Bala, Alba
Batlle Bayer, Laura
Balcells Fluvià, MercèBalcells Fluvià, Mercè - ORCID ID
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cc-by-nc (c) Fernández Ríos et al., 2022
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n a global arena in which the identification of healthier and cleaner nutrient sources is practically mandatory, superfoods, known as foods of high nutritional and biological value with satisfactory bioavailability and bioactivity within the body due to extraordinary concentrations of nutrients and bioactive ingredients, can play a key role. These products are highly connected with sustainability, which is composed of an economic, envi- ronmental, and social balance, mainly translated in meeting nutritional needs. Focusing on the two latter aspects, this article is intended to provide a breakthrough in the knowledge by assessing the nutritional characteristics and environmental performance of superfoods. Firstly, a selection is made by revising the nutritional profile of different products. Secondly, a review of life cycle assessment (LCA) studies aims to establish guidelines for future analyses, based on the current state-of-art and possible recommendations, as well as to provide infor- mation on the impacts of these novel products. 40 superfoods are identified, of which only 15 have environ- mental analysis. The LCA revision enable to recognize methodological vulnerabilities based on the lack of definition of the function, allocations, uncertainty and quality assessments, as well as a weak justification on the selection of data sources and impact categories. Other recommendations include the possibility of using nutrient- based functional unit, extending system boundaries up to retailer, applying high quality primary data and standardized databases, and analyzing a wider range of indicators. Finally, this scientific field is still little explored, so the suitability of superfoods from an environmental perspective cannot be concluded, thus encouraging the use of LCA to fill this scientific gap.
Journal or Serie
Journal of Cleaner Production, 2022, vol. 379, núm. art . 134491