Functional foods: advantages and applications

Functional foods: advantages and applications

2 Min read
Posted on Jan 22, 2023

Foods with additional health advantages beyond their nutritional value are known as "functional foods," and they are characterised by having secondary components with disease-preventative properties. According to the scientific community, "functional meals" are those that, when consumed regularly, cause noticeable changes in physical appearance or physiological function. Magazine articles and news programmes often praise the benefits of so-called "functional meals," which are said to be able to do anything from reducing cholesterol to preventing cancer. You may find a wide variety of meals and drinks in the supermarket, many of which claim to provide the same health benefits.

There's usually a point to most dinners. Food may provide the protein needed for muscle repair, the carbohydrates needed for energy, and the vitamins and minerals necessary for proper cell function. However, in the 1980s, the Japanese government created "functional meals" that gave health benefits beyond regular eating habits.

Foods with Specialized Nutritional Functions Ingredients that are currently popular in the food supplement market include

Carotenoids are a group of natural pigments found in foods, beverages, and poultry products. Carotenoids have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic ocular disorders, and cancer.

Fruits and vegetables include soluble and insoluble fibres that pass undigested through the stomach and are fermented by colonic bacteria into short-chain fatty acids, which help reduce cholesterol and minimise the risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Essential fatty acids (EFA) are fatty acids that the human body needs but cannot produce on its own. Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are two well-known examples of essential fatty acids, the balance of which is crucial to the body's proper functioning. Memory loss, deteriorating nerve health, increased risk of blood clots, irregular heartbeats, diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, and skin problems have all been linked to insufficient levels of Omega 3.

Plant flavonoids, a class of polyphenolic chemicals, aid our innate defence by combating viruses, fungi, bacteria, and inflammation.

The bioavailability of isothiocyanates, which are abundant in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale, and have numerous anticancer characteristics, is diminished by cooking methods that raise the temperature of the meal, such as boiling or microwaving.

Phytoestrogens are plant chemicals have significant impact on carbohydrate, lipid, protein, and mineral metabolism.

Polyols, a class of low-calorie carbohydrate-based sweeteners used in the production of sugar-free items such as chewing gums, ice cream, sweets, frozen desserts, biscuits, drinks, yoghurt, and tabletop sugar-free sweeteners, are another extensively used and functional component.

Live microorganisms, such as lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and yeasts, have been known for a long time to improve health by doing things like warding off pathogens in cases of diarrhoea and dysentery, bolstering the immune system, preventing irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and cancer. Non-digestible prebiotic meals promote the development of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, where they may exert their antibacterial and anticarcinogenic effects and aid in the prevention of diabetes mellitus.

Health Benefits

 Stimulate Healthy Development and Growth

Including a wide range of nutrient-dense functional foods in your diet is an effective way to ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs. It's also helpful to eat meals that have been fortified with various nutrients that are essential for development and growth.

Provides Protection From Illnesses

Functional foods provide essential nutrients that may help in the avoidance of sickness. They are rich in antioxidants, and several of them in particular. They protect cells from damage and illnesses including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease by neutralising harmful chemicals.

Also, the high fibre content of many functional foods aids in controlling blood sugar and protects a wide range of illnesses, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and stroke. Fibre may also help prevent diverticulitis, stomach ulcers, haemorrhoids, and acid reflux.

Avoid a Nutritional Shortfall

You can avoid nutritional deficiencies by including a variety of conventional and fortified functional foods in your diet.

Additionally, since fortified foods were first introduced, there has been a significant reduction in the incidence of nutritional inadequacies around the world. The absence of vitamins may lead to rickets, goitre, and birth defects, all of which have been prevented with fortification.