Functional Foods, Dietary supplements and Nutraceuticals Notes
Definition Functional Foods
Functional food can be defined as any food that exerts health properties beyond the traditional nutrients it contains. If the functional food helps in the prevention of a disease or its treatment it can be called ‘nutraceutical’.
Generally, functional food can give its user some specified or predetermined amount of effective nutrients like vitamins, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fibres etc, needed for our growth, development and maintenance of health.
Types of Functional foods
i) Foods that naturally contain biologically active, non-nutrient compounds known as phytochemicals that provide health benefits. All plant foods are rich in phytochemicals.
ii) Food products specifically formulated to have higher amounts of nutrients or phytochemicals than would naturally occur in that food. These are also called “designer foods.”
Examples of Functional foods
• Cereals and bread with added isoflavones.
• Fruit juices with herbs that have alleged immune-enhancing properties, such as Echinacea.
• Margarine with added phytosterols, which help to reduce cholesterol.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Functional Foods
Some functional foods make it easier to meet requirements for nutrients that are often deficient in the diets. The addition of calcium to orange juice and the B-vitamin folate to enriched flour are examples. Some functional foods make it possible to achieve higher intakes of nutrients or phytochemicals than would be realistic with natural food sources of these compounds.
Moderate amounts of manufactured functional foods can provide some benefits to the diet and may
help to reduce disease risk. However, they don’t offer any benefits over well-planned diets based on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Eating foods that are naturally rich in a wide array of phytochemicals makes good nutrition sense, though. The best approach to dietary planning is to use functional foods
in moderation in addition to a healthful diet.
Functional foods that contain added nutrients or phytochemicals may send confusing messages about how to plan healthful diets. Calcium-fortified orange juice is an improvement in food that is already healthful. Calcium-fortified candy or fibre-enriched white bread, on the other hand, involves the addition of beneficial substances to foods that are otherwise devoid of healthful properties.
The term ‘nutraceutical product’ was coined by the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine (FIM) in 1991.
FIM defined a nutraceutical product as ‘any substance that may be considered a food or part of a food that provides medical or health benefits including the prevention and treatment of disease’.
Nutraceutical products may range from isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and specific diets to genetically engineered designer foods, herbal products and processed foods such as cereals, soups and beverages
The ingredients of nutraceuticals include trace elements, minerals, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, amino acids etc. Many diseases are believed to have a close relation with nutrients and food supplements. Proteins are essential in building body and making it fit. Basically protein and protein supplements are required in building muscles. However overdose of protein is not good and can
even cause harm to kidneys.
Dietary supplements are also called food supplements or nutritional supplements. They are designed to provide nutrients that are missing in our daily diet. In different countries, dietary supplements are classified differently.
In some countries, they are categorized under foods whilst in some as drugs.
Dietary supplements also include non-medicinal herbal supplements and hormones like pregnenolone and melatonin.
Generally, a dietary supplement contains ingredients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, concentrate, metabolite, extract, or combinations. Dietary supplements are also used to
increase the performance of athletes and sports players.
Food supplements are the best way to get our daily dose of vitamins and minerals especially in
children. Vegetarian diet often lacks vitamin B12, hence Vitamin B12 supplement is useful for the vegetarians