Greek scientists are one step away from developing a new generation of health-enhancing ‘superfoods’

Greek scientists are one step away from developing a new generation of health-enhancing ‘superfoods’ enriched with bioactive substances extracted from the aromatic plants that grow in Greece and act as nature’s dispensary.

Talking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency on Friday, pathologist Stergios Tzimikas outlined his vision to eventually use the extracts of aromatic plants produced by his small business in order to develop healing foods – or nutraceuticals – that have the same appearance as ordinary foods, can be consumed as part of the diet, but support the normal functioning of the human body and reduce the risk of chronic ailments.

Tzimikas noted that there are many bioactive substances in nature, especially in aromatic plants, that are beneficial to human health and have been proved to reduce morbidity for a series of ailments, from cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer’s and various forms of cancer.

In work carried out by the Thessaloniki University School of Pharmacy in collaboration with Ioannina University Medical School, Tzimikas said, “we succeeded in isolating some of the bioactive substances that are in common aromatic plants and are now investigating how we can introduce these into foods. I believe we are very close and we will succeed.”

Bioactive foods are the future in nutrition, he explained, offering energy and nutrients, but also acting to prevent disease and promote good health, or even to treat diseases in some cases.

The use of Greek herb extracts mixed into animal feed had already been shown to have beneficial results, he said, improving the health of animals, the quality of their meat and milk and reducing use of antibiotics. The technique had also been used to develop a special feed for bees that has been effective in treating nosema, a disease that has decimated Greek bee populations, while also increasing production of honey.

Tzimikas has his own small manufacturing workshop and distillery, where he produces essential oils from Greek herbs such as oregano, thyme, roses, mint, lavender, sage, mountain tea and others. He reported lively interest for Kozani’s rose oil from businesses in Taiwan, where local authorities were now trying to encourage farmers to increase local production from 40 to 500 hectares of land in order to cover demand.