So, what exactly are functional foods?
Ingredients in functional meals provide health advantages that go beyond their nutritional value. Some of them include vitamins or other components meant to boost one’s health.
The notion began in Japan in the 1980s when government authorities began licensing foods with proven health advantages to improve the general public’s health (1Trusted Source).
Some examples are foods enriched with vitamins, minerals, probiotics, or fiber. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains are all nutrient-dense items that are sometimes referred to as functional foods.
Oats, for example, include beta-glucan, a kind of fiber that has been found to lower inflammation, boost immunological function, and promote heart health.
Antioxidants, beneficial molecules that help protect against illness, are abundant in fruits and vegetables.
Nutrient deficiency may be avoided.
Important nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fiber, are commonly found in functional meals.
Filling your diet with a mix of functional foods — both traditional and fortified — can help you acquire the nutrients you need while also protecting you from nutritional shortages.
In reality, the prevalence of nutritional deficiencies has dropped dramatically worldwide since the introduction of fortified meals.
In Jordan, for example, rates of iron deficiency anemia among children were virtually halved once iron-fortified wheat flour was introduced (5Trusted Source).
Fortification has also been used to prevent rickets, goiter, and birth abnormalities, all caused by vitamin shortages (6Trusted Source).
It may protect you against sickness.
Functional foods contain essential nutrients that can aid in illness prevention.
Antioxidants are abundant in several of them. These molecules aid in neutralizing dangerous substances known as free radicals, preventing cell damage and chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes (7Trusted Source).
Omega-3 fatty acids, a beneficial form of fat that has been demonstrated to lower inflammation, improve cognitive function, and support heart health, are found in several functional foods (8Trusted Source).
Other varieties are high in fiber, which helps manage blood sugar levels and protects against diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and stroke. Diverticulitis, stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids, and acid reflux can be prevented by eating enough fiber (9Trusted Source).
It may help you grow and develop properly.
Certain nutrients are required for normal growth and development in newborns and children.
As part of a balanced diet, consuming various nutrient-dense functional foods can assist meet nutritional requirements. Additionally, including meals fortified with certain vital nutrients for growth and development might be advantageous.