Healthy eating
Swiss superfoods: good for your health and for the environment

It's a long time since impressive-sounding superfoods like avocados, acai berries and spirulina were the exclusive preserve of fashionable brunch restaurants. But are these exotic vitamin bombs really as super as the name suggests? There are certainly Swiss alternatives that can easily compete with them.

Colourful, delicious and absolutely packed with vitamins, superfoods are touted as real culinary all-rounders. They supply large quantities of nutrients, are as pure as possible and are organically produced – or at least that's what the advertising claims. The superfoods trend has been going on for years now, with the range of products available in shops growing all the time.

However, there are two problems with this. Firstly, the largely exotic produce is grown in tropical regions – and transporting it to Switzerland by plane or container ship is anything but environmentally friendly. Secondly, "superfood" is not a protected term. This means there are no defined guidelines that a foodstuff has to comply with in order to be classed as a superfood. So just because a product is labelled as a superfood or has superfoods in it, that doesn't automatically mean it's healthy.

The good news is that regional and seasonal Swiss products offer just as good an alternative to exotic superfoods while being much less damaging to the environment. So it's doubly worthwhile taking a close look at the varied produce grown in Switzerland's fields.

Have walnuts instead of avocados

The avocado is probably the best known superfood, and it's now hard to imagine life without it in our diet. It comes from Mexico, is a member of the berry family and contains a host of important Omega-3 fatty acids in its creamy yellow-green flesh. These polyunsaturated fatty acids help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A. They can also have a positive effect on blood lipid levels, which in turn is good for blood pressure and the entire cardiovascular system. While the nutrients in avocados are great for the body, they are also very damaging for the environment. Growing avocados requires extremely large quantities of water, and transporting them from South America to Switzerland has a negative environmental impact.

Have blueberries instead of acai berries

Acai berries are a must on the menu of every brunch restaurant. The dark blue berry from Brazil is generally only available in Switzerland in dried or powdered form and is mixed into smoothies, shakes or muesli bowls. It is often described as a miracle berry because it is so high in antioxidants – the substances that protect the body's cells from environmental toxins such as UV radiation and cigarette smoke and thus play an important role in slowing the cell ageing process. Acai berries are also rich in minerals such as calcium and iron, which play a key role in transporting nutrients around the body. So there's no denying that acai berries are healthy. But they are not necessarily any healthier than other berries – especially fresh ones – even though their reputation might suggest otherwise. They also travel a long way to reach Swiss supermarket shelves, which is bad for the environment.
Possible Swiss alternatives include all berries that look similar to acai berries. Blueberries, blackcurrants, blackberries or black grapes all contain high levels of antioxidants in their dark skins, along with important fibre and minerals.

Swap spirulina for spinach

Like the avocado, this strikingly named alga also comes from Mexico. It is dried and turned into powder or capsules. Spirulina contains beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene also has an antioxidant effect and so protects against cell damage. The folic acid in spirulina is also important for cells, as it plays a key role in cell division and regeneration.

As well as being just as vibrantly green as spirulina, spinach also contains those same two nutrients along with lots of iron to help transport oxygen around the bloodstream. Another advantage is that spinach is much cheaper than spirulina and also significantly more versatile.

Not all foods labelled as "super" actually are

Trendy superfoods are undoubtedly very healthy in their original form, but they are often highly processed and lose important nutrients as a result. And then there is always the question of sustainability. How sensible is it to transport food from the other side of the world when we have equivalent alternatives right here? The name "superfood" can therefore be misleading. If you reach for fresh, local and seasonal fruit and veg when shopping, you'll definitely end up with more vitamins in your trolley - and a smaller environmental footprint to boot.

More Swiss superfoods:

  • Blackcurrants are not too sweet, versatile and an excellent source of antioxidants.
  • Walnuts supply valuable Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, helping lower blood lipid levels.
  • Beetroot has a high iron content, which is important for blood formation. It is also rich in antioxidants.
  • Buckwheat contains lots of fibre to aid digestion. The silicic acid in buckwheat is also important for healthy skin cells and strong bones.
  • Kohlrabi contains lots of vitamin C for the immune system, along with vitamins A and E for healthy cells.

Download the BENEVITA app now

The BENEVITA app, which can also be downloaded free of charge by non-SWICA customers, provides valuable tips on all aspects of nutrition. You can find out more about the app with health tips on exercise, nutrition and well-being at

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