Monday, August 21, 2006

What are functional foods (phoods)?

All whole foods have functional health components - carrots contain beta-carotene, grains have fiber-but some products have been manipulated to become "functional foods" (or phoods): a combination of foods and pharmaceuticals. They are ordinary foods spiked with a nutrient that has specific health properties.
Iodized salt is one of the earliest examples of a functional food. In the 1920s, iodine was added to salt to help prevent goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland). As another example, in recent years, manufacturers add calcium to OJ, thus transformed the juice into a liquid delivery system for the bone-strengthening mineral.
Some other functional foods currently in markets are:
1) Eggs (from Organic Valley) laid by hens which are fed with omega-rich flaxseed. These eggs are rich in Omega-3 fatty acid, good for people with high blood cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acid can also boost joint health and ease arthritis.
2) Yogurt(from Dannon) which are mixed with Probiotics such as lactobacilli & bifidobacteria). Probiotics improve human gastrointestinal health.
3) Margarine (from Benecol) mixed with plant sterol and stanol esters. Plant sterol lowers LDL and total blood cholesterol levels.
4) Prune juice (from Sunsweet) spiked with lutein. Lutein is a vitamin found in green vegetables and egg yolks, may help strengthen vision.


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Andrew Fairley said...

Isn't it true though that the body absorbs less (as a %-age) of the vitamin/nutrient in fortified foods than in the source food (ie flaxseed or green veggies)?