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.
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 well-being, 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