Functional foods are certain foods which are nutrient dense but also serve another purpose or ‘function’ in our bodies. These foods provide health and wellness benefits by reducing risk of certain diseases or health issues. Some basic examples of functional foods are fruits and vegetables which provide our bodies with nutrition but also contain other active components to provide our bodies with further benefits
- Beta-carotene found in pumpkin, sweet potatoes and carrots is an antioxidant which helps to neutralise free radicals;Lycopene found in tomatoes as well as watermelon and pink grapefruit supports maintenance of prostate health;
- Calcium found in dairy products, spinach and sardines may reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Other examples of functional foods include bone broths, kefir, kombucha and sauerkrauts which are all nutrient dense but also have a positive effect on our bodies by helping to improve our digestion, and strengthen our immune system.
Including a wide range of functional foods in our daily diet will provide us with overall health benefits, however watch out for some food manufacturer claims of producing functional foods which have been fortified with vitamins and minerals – think breads with folate or breakfast cereal with iron. These ‘fortifications’ may not be in a form which our bodies can absorb and will end up as waste down the toilet. Where possible source your functional foods from fresh foods.