Fruits and veggies still top the list for ‘functional’ foods

April 14, 2019

More and more people are becoming familiar with the term “functional food.” A recent study said 65 percent of consumers are now seeking more benefits from their food than just good taste, smell, texture, and appearance.

As medicine and health professionals are finally starting to understand “you are what you eat,” functional foods such as honey, probiotics, green tea, omega-3 fatty acids, and coffee are becoming more and more sought after.

With a greater understanding of how food affects the body, more people are learning to eat to improve their digestion, sleep, energy, and overall quality of life. The marketing machine has also caught on to this trend.

Using different terms such as organic foods, super foods, and non-GMO foods, more and more companies are professing the benefits of their products for health and longevity, rather than just how good they smell and taste.

More and more functional foods are being sold in the form of bars, shakes, and powders, as the ability to add separate ingredients such as turmeric, curcumin, apple cider vinegar, etc. can suddenly make the food “functional.” Even big companies like Starbucks are jumping onto this bandwagon, as you see more functional coffee being offered.

While those of us who have professed the power of food for years certainly appreciate this trend, there is still a lot to understand when it comes to individuals.

Functional foods, in general, may be better than other health foods and do not fall into this functional classification. But a lot of these professed health foods are still processed, still have a lot of added chemicals and preservatives, and can cause more problems in certain individuals if they aren’t aware.

One must also be wise as to wording and food placement. Even though chocolate may be considered a functional food, a chocolate chip cookie is probably still better to be lower rather than higher on your list of regular foods.

The best of the best in terms of functional foods are still one ingredient foods: fruits and vegetables topping that list. Consumers be wise in your food selection now that you have yet another criteria to consider.

Dr. Warren Willey is a Pocatello physician. Visit his website at http://drwilley.com.