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Hippophae: Marketing Trick Or True Story?

The National Herald

Hippophae. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

One of the good things about modern consumer goods is innovative delicious products with health benefits. Even if some 'marketing tricks' promise too much for nothing, if you get the right information, you will definitely win the 'value for money' game.

A characteristic example is hippophae or sea buckthorn products. Sea buckthorn is a plant of the North. It loves cold but it thrives also under hot conditions. Its natural habitat is Russia and other European and Asian countries of the North, and it is connected with a long history of lotions and potions. Traditional recipies for food or medicine are endless for each region, from jellies, juices, and purees to syrups for colds and cosmetics.

Regarding cosmetics and medicine, research is still in preliminary stages and it has yet to prove its pharmacological effects. 

But as food, research has proven its nutritional benefits and justifies its being marketed as a ‘superperfood'. The berries of the plant contains nutrients and bioactive compounds including vitamins, fatty acids (the good ones!), and other nutraceuticals. 

A nutraceutical is defined as any food substace with health benefits. But be caureful! There is a great product variation on the market. Always check for certifications and other documents that prove that a particular product has these special ingredients.

What about Greece? Even if the plant is not native to Greece, in recent decades many people started to cultivate it in the 'cold areas of Greece' – where it snows some times during the year. Collecting the fruit is difficult due to the thorns of the plant, but the result is worth it! Some Greek farmers have been growing plant varieties with more production and health benefits. The Greek climate in these areas helps also, hot in summer, cold in winter. When you come to Greece you can find innovative buckthorn products like juices, marmelades, oils, and dried fruit with many certifications and awards, and research that confirms the value of their active compounds.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an Msc in Botany-Biology.