Healthy Dining Finder - Ask the Dietitians - What is a Functional Food?
 



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Registered Dietitians Answer Your Questions about Restaurant Nutrition

What is a Functional Food?


Functional foods are one of the biggest trends right now, but chances are you’re already incorporating these foods into your daily diet for flavor and health. 
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Q: What is a functional food?

Functional foods are one of the biggest trends right now, but chances are you’re already incorporating these foods into your daily diet for flavor and health – especially if you regularly opt for the dietitian-recommended Healthy Dining choices at restaurants. 

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, functional foods are “whole foods along with fortified, enriched or enhanced foods that have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed as part of a varied diet on a regular basis at effective levels based on significant standards of evidence.”  Essentially, a functional food is one that has been linked by solid scientific evidence to certain health benefits.  Some examples of functional foods include:
  • Salmon
  • Flaxseeds
  • Cocoa
  • Berries
  • Beans
  • Garlic
  • Leafy greens
This list of functional foods could go on and on, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, dairy and even spices!  Just take a look at this list that includes the potential health benefits of a wide variety of foods. 

As people’s focus shifts away from sick care and towards prevention and the role of food, functional foods become even more appealing for their benefits.  Many of these ingredients have been linked to a healthy weight, lower risk of cancer and heart disease, reduced stress, improved blood sugar and a healthier gut. 

Functional foods may not be an overnight cure-all, but they are an essential ingredient in a healthy lifestyle both for health benefits and the rich variety of flavors they offer.  How do you include functional foods in your diet to support your health?

Keep your fridge and pantry at home stocked with these high-powered foods and opt for healthier menu choices like these, featured on HealthyDiningFinder.com, at restaurants near you:
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