New Regularity in Diet: Functional Foods

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   “Superfood” and “miracle food” are terms that can often be heard in diets. Unfortunately, there is no such food that will quickly bring any diet process to the desired point. But there are foods that stand out with their health benefits. What are? Functional foods.

   Functional foods according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics are enriched or improved foods that have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed regularly as part of a variety of nutrition at effective levels based on important food standards.

   In addition to the variety of nutrition, in the diet, by adding functional foods to our consumption preferences, we not only help increase positive effects for the body but also support our protection against chronic diseases and improving our disease.

Everything is like Hippocrates said 2,500 years ago: “Let the food be your medicine and your medicine will be your food.”

The term functional foods cover a wide range of products:

  • They can be functional due to unprocessed foods that retain their natural structure and bioactive compounds they contain: All fruits, vegetables, cereals, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy products, fish, and meat.
  • Bioactive compound types, components, foods modified for their bioavailability: milk enriched with vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids enriched with omega-3 fatty acids.
  •  Apart from that, even without food, some food ingredients can be bioactive ingredients used in food products to provide a functional effect: indigestible carbohydrates (such as oligosaccharides and resistant starch) that provide prebiotic effects. 
  • Some functional foods can also be produced with a specific functional compound. Just like turning milk into yogurt for probiotic benefits.

Bowl of yogurt with bluberries and granola

The reason why functional foods can provide health benefits is that they contain bioactive compounds that will have biological activity in the human body. For example ; 

  • Carotenoids (eg lycopene, beta-carotene) in tomatoes promote cardiovascular health. 
  • Bioactive peptides and probiotics in fermented milk/dairy products support the intestines, immunity, and metabolic health. 
  • Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and other fatty fish support brain and cardiovascular health. 
  • Broccoli and cruciferous glycosinolate increase the antioxidant capacity with vitamin C and K content and may decrease some cancer risk.

Including Functional Foods in Your Diet

Adding plenty of herbal food, healthy protein, and dairy products to your shopping lists is a way to increase your functional food intake. Consider these tips:

  • Increase the variety of foods on your shopping list

By combining choices from different food groups at the same meal or on the same day, you can actually get different bioactive components for your body’s health without realizing it.

functional foods shopping list

  • Fill half your plate with vegetables

Phytochemicals are found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Adding to your meals means you can take benefit of them.

  • Choose cooking techniques by food

Baking can destroy some compounds or increase the activity of the compounds. For example, vitamin C is sensitive to high temperatures. Vitamin A is heat-resistant and availability can increase when it is heated. For example, the heating of tomatoes can increase the bioactivity and health benefit of the phytochemical called lycopene. While the structure of avidin in the egg is raw, vitamin B7 can prevent the absorption of biotin. With cooking, this avidin cannot do this.

  • Choose a variety of colors when choosing food

Phytochemicals usually manifest themselves in the form of a color. By consuming many different colors of vegetable foods, you can consume more phytochemicals and take advantage of health benefits.

colorful functional foods

  • Reduce the intake of highly processed foods

Highly processed foods are generally low in vitamins, minerals, and bioactive. Balance is the key to enjoying eating, it also provides the body with nutrients that need to stay healthy and reduce the risk of disease. Therefore, the balance should be achieved when these foods want to be consumed.

  • Let your preference be enriched foods

Public health studies are studies that require long processes and labor. At the end of these studies, the things that are deemed missing in the society, such as vitamin-mineral deficiency, can be supported by adding them to the most consumed foods in society. For example, if your milk is enriched with vitamin D in your country, you should choose this. Everything is for you and your health.

 

Vivoo Nutrition Team

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