Everything You Need To Know About Functional Foods

Functional foods and their benefits

As opposed to nutritious food, functional foods have specific, targeted benefits for one or more organ systems in the body. They prevent or delay the onset of several chronic ailments and are efficient antioxidants and metal chelators that can reduce metal overload in the blood. They also have anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antiviral, anti-carcinogenic, antithrombotic, and hepatoprotective effects that can prevent damage to the liver.

A diet comprising of vegetables, fruits, spices, seeds, herbs, and medicinal plants can prevent free radical formation, which causes tissue damage. Vegetables like amla, wheatgrass, and soya bean have anti-tumor properties.1 And meat and meat products are healthy options with functional attributes.2 Let us now look into some of the functional foods, their benefits for the body and how they are better than nutritious foods.


Functional Foods Versus Nutritional Foods

How different are functional foods with nutritional foods

Functional foods are better than nutritious foods because they contain physiologically active food components like phytochemicals that provide numerous health benefits beyond basic nutrition. They can target specific functions in the body, can reduce metal overload in the blood, and thereby reduce the free radical formation that is responsible for diseases like cancer. They are known for their antioxidant benefits in removing all toxic waste from the body.


These foods are different from drugs that are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, treatment, and prevention of diseases. They are also responsible for the maintenance and improvement of health while making the body immune to diseases.3

Focus On Whole Functional Foods And Cereals

Wholesome foods are great for weight loss as well


Whole and fortified foods provide many more health benefits than just the nutrients, comprising vitamins and minerals. They are more cost-effective than dietary supplements and can reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Examples include buckwheat, which is rich in antioxidants and has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties.4

Higher intake of a diet comprising whole grains reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.5 You can include cereals in the diet for their functional benefits as they improve the physiological functions and stimulate the growth of probiotic microorganisms through fermentation.6


Turmeric As A Powerful Functional Food

Turmeric has a lot of benefits

This magic ingredient is a powerful functional food that can effectively control cancer and inflammation. Turmeric is capable of regulating the blood glucose levels. Curcumin, the yellow pigment present in the rhizome of turmeric, is an antioxidant and possesses anticarcinogenic, anti-fungal, immunomodulatory, and anti-mutagenic properties.


Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, this spice is used in the treatment of inflammatory diseases like rheumatism, sinusitis, cough, and postoperative inflammation in the body. It does not have any toxic effects even at higher doses.7 Turmeric milk, also called as golden milk, is a tasty beverage that can boost the immunity and has got amazing health benefits for your body.

Veggies, Fruits, Seeds, Spices, And Medicinal Herbs

Veggies and other fruits target specific systems


Veggies and fruits are rich in phytochemicals, which have strong antioxidant and anticancer properties. No single supplement can replace the combination of the variety of phytochemicals found in fruits and veggies. For example, natural flavonoids present in apples have the antioxidant potential, balance the enzyme secretion, and are responsible for improved memory and motor function. Grapes reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cranberry juice is effective in treating urinary tract infections.8

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli decrease cancer risk. Onion, ginger, chilies, carrots, tomatoes, and curry leaves are some of the vegetables with many functional attributes. Vegetables like Indian gooseberry, wheatgrass, and soya bean have antitumor effects.9 Herbs like garlic and medicinal herbs like bixa Orellana have anti-tumor effects.10 And seeds like flax seed and spices like clove, cinnamon, mustard, and fenugreek are powerful antioxidants with many health benefits.11


Dairy Products And Meat

Dairy products and meat provide you with adequate protein

Fermented dairy products are rich in probiotics and benefit the good microflora of the gut. They are the best sources of calcium, which can prevent osteoporosis and colon cancer.12

Meat and meat products contain important nutrients like selenium and iron, fatty acids, minerals, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and bioactive peptides. They are responsible for the prevention of diseases associated with metabolic syndrome and to improve mental health.13