Maybe you’ve heard or read about functional food, but if you still have no idea what the term is about and what it contributes to health, here’s what you need to know to be on the safe side. Take a look at the list of examples!
The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines a functional food as one that offers a significant supply of nutrients, which translates into additional health benefits that minimize the risk of developing a disease.
Most foods provide the body with the nutrients to work optimally. So by definition they would all fall under the label of “functional”. However, the Japanese government was the first to establish a classification of so-called functional foods, whether modified or conventional. Although there is no official definition of the term so far.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies foods as: modified or enriched foods, conventional foods, medicinal foods, and foods that meet certain dietary needs. And while all foods have their own particular contribution to the diet, there is one group that has earned a reputation as functional foods.
- Garlic is one of the most widely used foods in the kitchen. But it is not only valued for its taste, but also for its allicin content that helps minimize blood pressure, cholesterol and prevent some types of cancer.
- Blue or fatty fish are high in omega-3, which helps reduce inflammation of blood vessels and joints, as well as minimize the risk of developing chronic conditions such as arthritis and improve cognitive functions. These include sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna.
- Legumes are a source of fiber, which is associated with good heart health and better control of diabetes. Among those that stand out are peas, lentils, beans and broad beans.
- Almonds, peanuts and walnuts contain antioxidants and are rich in fatty acids that benefit heart health.
- Berries are also rich in flavonoids and fiber, which translates into cholesterol control and heart health. Among them are blackberries, blueberries and strawberries/fruits.
- Oats are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which reduces levels of bad cholesterol that contribute to optimal heart health.
Keep in mind that if your diet is healthy and balanced, the food is actually functional. Therefore, they do not require special labels, since they will be providing you with what you need, including vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.