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.
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.
Feb. 21, 2018
- Crowe KM, et al. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Functional foods. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013;113:1096.
- Duyff RL. What's on Today's Table? In: American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 4th ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons; 2012.
- Labeling and nutrition. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/labelingnutrition/default.htm. Accessed March 19, 2015.
- Zeratsky KA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 19, 2015.