What are functional foods?

Posted on :  February 5, 2021
Seafood is a functional food

Seafood is a functional food

by Ashleigh Feltham
Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist

You may have noticed the term ‘functional food’ written on products in your supermarket but you might not be sure exactly what this term means. Most food provides nutrients which help your body to function, such as carbohydrates for energy and protein for cell repair. Functional foods are a class beyond the basic macronutrients a food can provide. To be classified as a functional food, additional health benefits must be present.

In addition to this, a functional food must provide your body with health benefits when consumed in your diet regularly. These foods are minimally processed but can include enriched or fortified foods or beverages.

Slow Roasted Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella Tuna Salad

Slow Roasted Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella Tuna Salad

Here are 5 functional foods to add to your diet:

1: Seafood

Not only does seafood like Safcol Seafood provide your body with protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fat but a matrix, of additional health benefits. This includes the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E as well as vitamin B12 and choline, which support the health of your central nervous system. Minerals like iron and zinc which optimise your immune system function are also provided by seafood.

Iodine and selenium which help your thyroid work at its best, are also present in seafood. Your thyroid produces hormones and plays a major role in your metabolic rate. Salmon even has its own antioxidant called astaxanthin which fights off free radicals which can cause damage and disease to the cells of your body. It is clear to see why including a seafood serve of around 100g 2-3 times a week is recommended for your health.

2: Wholegrains

Whole grains offer many nutrients to benefit your health and one of these is fibre. The fibre in wholegrains assists healthy cholesterol levels blood pressure and weight. A minimum of 3 serves of wholegrains are recommended a day with a serving being ½ cup of cooked wholegrain rice, couscous, quinoa, or pasta, 40g of wholegrain bread or 35g of wholegrain crackers.

3: Nuts

Like seafood, nuts offer a heart-healthy unsaturated fat. In addition to this, each nut offers additional health benefits such as calcium and magnesium in almonds. A 30g or a small handful of nuts a day has been linked to many health benefits such as a healthy weight and cholesterol levels.

4: Berries

Not only are berries low in calories but they give your body the pigments called anthocyanins. These have anticancer, anti-obesity, antidiabetic and antimicrobial factors and they reduce your risk of heart disease. 1 cup or 150g counts as one of your needed serves of fruit each day.

5: Legumes

Beans offer not only a good source of protein and carbohydrate but also fibre, folate, and potassium. Potassium promotes healthy blood pressure levels which reduces your risk of heart disease while folate is essential for DNA synthesis and repair.



Take home message

While these 5 functional foods are stand-outs, having an overall balanced diet which includes a variety and adequate amount of each food group is essential for your health.

Not only is Safcol the Seafood Experts tuna lunchbox friendly, but it also tastes delicious, and boasts some amazing health benefits! Tuna contains Omega-3 fats that are an unsaturated form of fat called polyunsaturated. These types of fats cannot be made by the body, so we need to include them as part of our diet to stay healthy. For good health, you need omega-3 fats in our diet, particularly the type which comes from fish and seafood because it contains two acids known as docosahexaenoic acid or DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA. These two acids are linked to better health for your body particularly for your brain and heart.