What is functional food?
FUFOSE (Functional Food Science in Europe) worked out a definition of functional food-also known as nutraceuticals or medifood or vitafood- as food that satisfactorily demonstrated to affect beneficially one or more target function in the body, beyond adequate nutritional effects, in a way that is relevant to either an improved state of health and wellbeing and/or reduction of risk of diseases.
According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), Functional Food is a food potentially healthful or food ingredient that may provide a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients contain. But the ADA added that, for the effect of functional full to be effective, ‘it should be consumed as part of a varied diet on a regular basis’.
Functional foods includes foods or foods ingredients that exert a beneficial effect on human health and/or reduce the risk of chronic diseases beyond basic nutritional functions (Huggett and Schliter, 1996).
Production of functional Food.
In order for functional foods to be used to promote health, some health-promoting elements are added in their production while some health harmful elements are removed. In functional foods there are antioxidant induced vitamins, trace elements, fatty acids, arginine , nucleotides and alter antigen contents in infant foods. In some countries like Korea or Japan, Functional Foods can be sold in the form of Pills or Tablets, but most generally Functional Foods are consumed as part of a natural diet.
Example of Functional Foods
They are an addition of specific vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, biologically active substances such as phytochemicals or other antioxidants and probiotics that have a beneficial effects on health to natural foods. So simple foods that naturally have such elements can be considered as functional foods. Examples include unmodified whole foods such as fruits and vegetables. So, Tomatoes and Carrots can be considered as functional foods because they have active elements such as sulforaphane, β-carotene respectively. Some food becomess functional because it have been modified by the addition of the active components.
The Table below shows some functional foods and their benefits to health.
|Functional Food||Potential Health Benefits|
|Black and Green Tea||Reduce risk for cancer
This is a category of functional tea: SOLLO Green Tea Pod
|Brocolli||Reduce risk for cancer|
|Fish||Reduce risk for heart diseases, reduce Cholesterol and triglycerides.|
|Fruits and vegetables||Reduce risk for certain cancers, heart diseases, and hypertension.|
|Garlic||Reduce risk for certain cancers, heart diseases and reduce cholesterol.|
|Flaxseed||Blood glucose control|
|Enriched Foods with fibers|
|Grains||Reduce risk for certain cancers, heart diseases, and nutrients deficiencies|
|Juices with calcium||Reduce the risk of oloporosis, reduces hypertension|
|Grains with folic acid||Reduce the risk of heart diseases and neural tube birth effects|
|Infant Formula with iron||Reduce the risk of iron deficiency|
|Grains with added fiber||Reduce risk for certain cancers, heart diseases, reduce cholesterol, hypertension, and constipation.|
|Dairy Foods with probiotics||Reduces the risk of colon cancer and candida vaginitis, controls inflammation, treatment of respiratory allergies, diarrheal disorders, and eczema|
|Fish with omega-3 fatty acids||Reduce the risk of heart diseases.|
Adapted from American Dietetic Association (1999), Mazza (1998) and Wildman (2001).
Health Benefits of Functional Foods.
The specific domain where these types of foods can potentially have an effect include cardiovascular problems, gastro-intestines problems, certain cancer, growth, metabolism, defense against free radical oxidation and enhancement of psychological functions. functional food can be particularly useful to control thte level of cholesterol in your body, this book explains it better.
For a healthy person, in other to reduce the risk of some categories of ailments, it is necessary to take around 200 g of vegetables daily with two pieces of food. There are special Yoghourt, cheese cake with fructose, whole wheat, skimmed milk, kareesh cheese and olive for people with diabetics. A good nutrition program in early development does not only affect the emotional, intellectual and physical growth of a child but also has the effect of preventing some diseases and early mortality risk at adulthood.
A large body of literature establishes a direct relationship between the health and overall well-being of people and functional foods. For instance, people who consume low-fat dairy products are likely to have lower weight (zemel, 2004), lower blood pressure (Moore et al, 2005) decrease risk of stroke (Abbott et al, 1996), colon cancer (Kampman et al, 2000). Several components found in skim milk may have a protective effect against the outset of disease that occurs as a result of obesity.
In summary, the effects of functional foods can be listed here:
- Reduced risk of Cardiovascular diseases
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Weight loss/management
- Reduced Osteoporosis
- Improved memory and mental health
- Improved fetal health.