To explain functional foods away by saying that they’re functional doesn’t really tell the whole story. All food is functional in the sense that they perform a function.
Whether you eat to fill yourself up, to improve your health, or whether you eat purely for comfort, the food you choose is always performing a function.
But functional foods come with added health bonuses that go above and beyond the basic nutrition provided by most types of food. In essence, they have extra function, extra pizzazz and purpose, hence the name.
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The additional function is most often related to a modification in the food that assists and enhances our health. They often contain added nutrients and substances. For example, an optimized health benefit of cereal would be its increased supply of fiber.
Because functional foods are known to significantly reduce debilitating diseases, such as cancer or diabetes, they also provide long term benefits as well as short term ones.
Owing to the modifications in the food, functional foods are often categorized as processed foods, such as cereal or certain types of bread.
First marketed in Japan in the early eighties, functional foods are growing in popularity all the time, their evolution a reflection of society’s ever growing concern for their health and wellbeing, as well as the popularity of mass-marketed diets.
Research in the field is still ongoing, as marketers continue to refine and tweak their products in a bid to maximize their potential and thus further boost our health.
Indeed, the market is important not just for our health but also for the economy – it is an industry worth around 50 billion dollars at present.
You can purchase functional foods from your local grocery store as single item – such as a piece of fruit – or you can buy them as a shake. Although the effect of a single item may not be as strong as one derived from a shake that combines a few ingredients together, they still contain increased amount of vitamins, fiber and minerals that are essential to the promotion of our health. Here are a few functional goods you can buy:
- Omega-3 eggs
Seeking Health’s Optimal Detox Functional Food Powder
This product contains a powder that you add to water to turn into a shake. The recommended daily amount is 2 50g scoops for one drink in the morning (most usually at breakfast), and then another 2 50g for another drink later in the day (perhaps after an evening workout).
A lot of people baulk at the idea of drinking a nutrient enhanced shake, usually because they tend to taste so bad. Fortunately, Seeking Health have come up with something that actually tastes great – it tastes of chocolate – coming as it does with a flavour that is entirely natural, devoid of any MSG.
Although it’s a little expensive, you get what you pay for, and with 21 grams of optimal protein that aids your gastrointestinal health and ability to detoxify, this is a product that offers both short term and long term health effects. Fructose-free, it is advisable to use it in combination with a ‘modified elimination diet.’
Vega Sports Performance Protein
This deliciously tasty shake is packed with 25 grams of protein that is suitable for vegans. The protein contained here is derived from plant-based food ingredients which aids with muscle repair after workout.
Used by athletes and sportsmen all over the world, it’s a popular choice for many who recognise its ability to encourage protein synthesis in the body.
It isn’t easy choosing a functional food shake; some taste pretty dire, and the ones that actually taste nice can often end up conflicting with your existing diet (a soy-based shake, for example, might lead to soy overload if you already consumer a lot of soy).
This shake from Vega Sports has the perfect balance between great taste and great health benefits. With no added sugar or artificial colours, it contains 5g of glutamine, BCAAS, as well as the aforementioned 25 g of protein.
When you consider its price – $50 – and how long it will last you, paying for this shake will be much more beneficial than constantly buy single pieces of fruit and veg that can only aspire to giving you the same benefits. This is one heck of a functional food shake – it’s like a genie in a bottle.