Functional Foods……Ever Heard Of Them???

Hey everyone! Welcome once again to Heal-Thy-Self. Let’s begin our discussion on another interesting, yet quite overlooked topic-Functional Foods. Ever heard of them? Well, many of you must have. For those who don’t know what exactly Functional Foods are, here’s a quick overview…

What Are Functional Foods

Functional Foods are those foods that contain specific components that may reduce the risk of certain diseases. Functional Foods provide certain benefits beyond their basic nutritional value. These components can be naturally occurring in a Functional Food, or they can be added. Foods that fall into this category can be whole or fortified, enriched or enhanced, or all of them!

Recent years have been buzzing with an increasing interest in these Functional Foods. So, what are these exactly? Well, fruits and vegetables are the commonest and simplest examples of Functional Foods. For an instance, carrots and tomatoes may be considered Functional Foods because they are rich in compounds that are linked with reduced risk of various diseases like cancer. There is a hope that these foods can be helpful in prevention and treatment of various health conditions and diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, arthritis etc.

Examples Of Functional Foods

An example of a fortified functional food is fortified milk. To prevent vitamin D deficiency and conditions like rickets, milk is fortified with vitamin D. Another example is salt. Salt is fortified with iodine to prevent goiter.

Some food components which are the focus of growing interest in functional foods are omega 3 fatty acids, soy protein, probiotics and prebiotics, lutein, psyllium, oats, stanols and sterols etc.

Are Functional Foods Good For You

Functional Foods are extremely important part of your diet. They help in boosting your immunity and keep you away from many diseases. Several studies conducted in recent years link them with an ability to treat certain medical conditions.

While this can act as a boon in prevention and treatment of various diseases, it is also a curse as food companies try to market these foods as medicines. For example, cereals fortified with psyllium and chips with kava-kava are a regular occurrence on store shelves these days. However, most of these products are not regulated and the buyer has no way of knowing how much quantity of the active ingredient these foods really contain. Some of the herbal supplements or medicines companies try to benefit by claiming to add these components to their products and try to exploit people’s interest in alternative medicine. While not all of them are fake and bad, it is always wise not to follow the trend blindly. Do your homework well before you try out those eye-catching products.

There are many controversies surrounding Functional Foods. Some food companies may claim their products are enriched with these foods while there is little or no evidence to support their claims in many cases. Nonetheless, there is a growing interest in people for these Functional Foods, and this increasing interest will prompt continued research and development in the field of Functional Foods.

Takeaway

What I would like to add as the bottom line is that, when in doubt, stick with nature. Always do remember that nature has provided us with an abundance of these foods by means of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and the likes. Whatever the future of Functional Foods may bring, one can never go wrong sticking with the basics, right?

I hope this post has shed some light on what Functional Foods are and what role do they play in our diet.

If you have something on your mind that you would like me to shine some light upon, I will be happy to do so. Please do mention in the comments below what you want me to write on in my next post. I will see you soon with yet another interesting post. Until then, bbye and take care. Eat healthy, stay healthy!

Here’s Dr Apoorva, signing out for today.

References-

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/functional-foods/faq-20057816

https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/functional-foods

‘Foods That Harm Foods That Heal’ by Reader’s Digest

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