What are functional foods?Posted on : February 5, 2021
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.
Here are 5 functional foods to add to your diet:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.