I've heard the term "functional foods," but I don't know what it means. Can you explain?

Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Functional foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. Proponents of functional foods say they promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease.

A familiar example of a functional food is oatmeal because it contains soluble fiber that can help lower cholesterol levels. Some foods are modified to have health benefits. An example is orange juice that's been fortified with calcium for bone health.

Proponents of functional foods say they promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease. The Food and Drug Administration regulates the claims that manufacturers can make about functional foods' nutrient content and effects on disease, health or body function.

If you want to try functional foods, choose wisely. And keep in mind that while functional foods may help promote wellness, they can't make up for poor eating habits.

April 11, 2015 See more Expert Answers