Functional Foods: Definition, Examples, and Potential Benefits for Human Health

In recent years, functional foods have gained popularity in health and wellness circles. Also known as nutraceuticals, functional foods are highly nutritious and associated with a number of powerful health benefits.But what are functional foods?In general, functional foods are foods that offer health benefits beyond their nutritional value. In addition to nutrient-dense ingredients like fruits and vegetables, the category also includes foods fortified with vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and fiber.

They may contain additional ingredients designed to improve health. The concept originated in Japan in the 1980s, when government agencies began approving foods with proven benefits in an effort to improve the health of the general population. Functional foods are generally divided into two categories: conventional and fortified. Conventional foods are natural whole food ingredients that are rich in important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and heart-healthy fats.

Fortified foods have been fortified with additional ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals, probiotics, or fiber, to increase the health benefits of a food.Functional foods provide important nutrients that can help protect against disease. Many are especially rich in antioxidants. These molecules help neutralize harmful compounds known as free radicals, helping to prevent cell damage and certain chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Some functional foods are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy type of fat shown to reduce inflammation, boost brain function, and promote heart health.Other types are high in fiber, which can promote better blood sugar control and protect against conditions like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and stroke. Fiber may also help prevent digestive disorders such as stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids, and acid reflux.  This presentation is in scope mainly with objective 6 of conference which is the well-being of humans.