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Stay healthy through the winter with Swiss food

Generali and ÖKK are combining their range of insurance products and services as part of an insurance offer (see press release). We spoke with Dr Marcel Hilbig, chief physician of ÖKK's medical review commission, about staying healthy in the winter months. The result: 5 local superfood alternatives. Enjoy!

Everyone is talking about superfoods – not surprising since these small energy boosters are both tasty and healthy. But they don't always have to come from abroad: why roam far and wide when the good stuff is right here?

Acai berries

Acai berries grow in the Brazilian rainforest and usually travel to Switzerland freeze-dried as a powder or juice. They're said to aid weight loss and even to have an aphrodisiac effect. In addition, the dark plant pigment anthocyanin is thought to have antioxidant properties. Instead of acai berries, I recommend dark berries with similar ingredients that are native to Switzerland. For example, elderberry makes a good substitute for acai berries. Just like blueberries and blackcurrants, elderberries contain lots of antioxidants and magnesium – elderberry juice even has a higher concentration of anthocyanin than acai berries.

Chia seeds

Whether in a sandwich or in muesli, chia seeds are a big hit because they are thought to have a positive influence on the body's metabolism thanks to their high levels of dietary fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. Vegans use them in baking as a substitute for eggs as they form a gel when combined with water. But watch out: chia seeds are often contaminated by pesticides and should therefore be eaten in moderation.

Go for linseeds instead. As seeds or an oil, linseeds are the perfect local alternative to chia seeds. They contain even more omega-3 fatty acids, are just as rich in calcium and protein and go equally well with bread or muesli. They also have a delicious nutty taste.

Matcha

Matcha, or ground green tea, is predominantly used as an ingredient for baking, ice cream and smoothies. It is said to lower blood pressure and improve productivity and metabolism. But none of this is proven.

Drink camomile or other local teas instead. They're just as good for your health as green tea. Camomile has a calming effect, rosehip tea is thought to stimulate digestion and hawthorn is said to help bring down high blood pressure.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a godsend for people with gluten intolerance. This is because the Inca food from the Andes is free of the gluten protein found in wheat and most other cereals. That's why quinoa is a popular cereal alternative in soups, casseroles, stews, gratins and desserts.

For a long time, millet was the only native gluten-free alternative to quinoa. However, it is only grown in Switzerland in limited amounts, meaning that even here imports from elsewhere are practically the only option. Only in the last few years has the amount of native millet on the market increased and even quinoa is now being grown in Seeland – but it costs three times as much as imported quinoa.

Wheatgrass

If your smoothie is a nice green colour, it definitely has wheatgrass powder in it. Wheatgrass was popular with shamans and druids back in ancient times and it is well known how close to nature they were. Wheatgrass is green and healthy thanks to its high chlorophyll content, which is thought to break down carcinogenic substances and aid healing and digestion.

But several native vegetables also contain a lot of chlorophyll – like broccoli and kale. Kale is a national dish in northern Germany and is increasingly capturing the Swiss markets. Generally, cabbage varieties – healthy winter vegetables – are the most underrated superfoods. Treat yourself to a vitamin boost made in Switzerland!

"Why roam far and wide when the good stuff is right here?"

 

About the author

Dr Marcel Hilbig is an SGV medical officer and heads up ÖKK's medical review commission as chief physician. The trained specialist in anaesthesiology is also a SIM-certified medical expert.