Nutritional properties of selected superfood extracts and their potential health benefits

Jacqueline P. Barsby, James M. Cowley, Shalem Y. Leemaqz, Jessica A. Grieger, Daniel R. McKeating, Anthony V. Perkins, Susan E.P. Bastian, Rachel A. Burton, Tina Bianco-Miotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The term ‘superfoods’ is used to market foods considered to have significant health benefits. ‘Superfoods’ are claimed to prevent diseases as well as improving overall health, though the lack of explicit criteria means that any food can be labelled ‘super’ without support from scientific research. Typically, these ‘superfoods’ are rich in a particular nutrient for example antioxidants or omega-3 fatty acids. The objective of this study was to investigate the nutritional properties of a selection of superfood seeds: flax, chia, hulled sunflower and two types of processed hemp seeds and determine whether they may have potential health benefits. Methods: We developed a simple aqueous extraction method for ground seeds and analysed their composition by mineral, protein and monosaccharide analyses. Cell viability assays were performed on Caco-2 and IEC-6 intestinal epithelial cells using increasing doses of the prepared extracts. Results: Increased cell viability was observed in both cell lines with increasing concentrations of the flax seed, chia seed or hulled sunflower extracts (P < 0.05). Compositional analyses revealed the presence of polysaccharides, proteins and essential minerals in the aqueous extracts and in vitro assays showed sunflower had the highest antioxidant activity. However, differences in extract composition and antioxidant properties could not be directly related to the observed increase in cell viability suggesting that other components in the extracts may be responsible. Future studies will further characterize these extracts and investigate whether they are beneficial for gastrointestinal health.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12525
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2021


  • Chia
  • Flax
  • Hemp
  • Sunflower
  • Superfoods
  • health benefits
  • nutritional properties


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