A Brief Introduction to Functional Foods

In recent years, functional foods have become increasingly popular in the health and wellness world. They are a group of food ingredients that provide health benefits beyond those found in traditional dietary sources.

To be functional, a food must contain bioactive components (nutrients and non-nutrients) that exert physiological or functional effects to improve health, reduce chronic disease risk, and/or improve outcomes for diseases and conditions.


The body requires macronutrients in large amounts to provide energy (calories). Macronutrients are comprised of carbohydrates, proteins and fat.

Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for your body. They provide instant energy to the body, muscles and brain.

Protein provides amino acids and helps your body build and repair tissue, make enzymes, hormones, and messengers that connect cells throughout your body.

Fatty acids in fats promote cell membrane health and help to store energy. Lipids also aid in transport and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins K, E, D, and A.

While dietary needs for all three macronutrients can vary, a balanced approach is always recommended to maintain optimal health and wellness. A mix of carbs, protein and healthy fats should make up about half of your daily calorie intake to get the most benefits from your nutrition plan.

Macronutrient Density

Macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrate) are nutrients the body needs in relatively large amounts to function well. They also supply energy, and help to maintain cellular growth, immune function, and overall repair.

Fats and carbohydrates have a high calorie density, containing 4 calories per gram of each nutrient, while proteins provide 9 kcal/g. Compared to other macronutrients, micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) have a low calorie density.

Nutritionists recommend that adults consume a range of these three types of macronutrients. This enables you to achieve optimal health and achieve your fitness goals.

Nutrient dense foods are foods that provide a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats in a small amount of food. Examples include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meat, beans, nuts and seeds.

Body Mass Index

The Body Mass Index (BMI) was developed as a risk indicator for disease. As the BMI increases, so does your risk for several diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

The term “functional food” is used to describe foods that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. These include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and other bioactive substances.

Functional foods contain specific compounds that work together to alter one or more physiological processes in the body, such as reducing inflammation, promoting bone health and lowering blood pressure. These compounds can be found in a variety of traditional foods, as well as in vegetables and fruits that are bred to have these characteristics.

A person who is underweight or very overweight should talk to their doctor about how to get the most from their diet. These individuals are at high risk for a number of conditions, including heart disease, some types of cancer and high blood pressure.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is a key component of many functional food programs. Losing a few pounds can make you feel more confident and help you establish and maintain new lifestyle behaviors.

This is especially true if you are eating a healthy diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Getting plenty of these foods can reduce your risk for developing chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, which are major contributors to obesity.

To maintain your weight, it is important to eat a variety of different foods in moderation, and avoid foods high in refined sugar and sodium. You should also choose foods with a good balance of vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds. Reducing the amount of highly processed foods you eat will allow room for more wholesome and nourishing food choices that have been shown to benefit your health.

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