Functional foods. If foods can do more

Food and health are closely connected. It´s a fact mankind knows since the beginnings of medicine. For example the greek doctor Hippocrates already shared this idea by saying: "Let food be my medicine and medicine my food". And people used to eat special foods for special health reasons. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Is a saying nearly everybody knows. Most kinds of fruits, vegetables and cereals are considered to have special benefits for human health. You drink orange juice in the morning or eat citrus fruits to get vitamin C to boost your immune system, drink milk to get to calcium for your bones and you eat vegetables to get fibers to support your digestion. It sounds quite like a healthy diet, doesn´t it?

So why do we need food, that can do more, than normal food? And what means functional foods?

Functional foods. What is it?

Functional foods are generally considered as foods that contain ingredients, which provide a health benefit, over and above the provision of basic nutrients. In contrast to food supplements, which also provide a defined amount of nutrients, functional foods are not a capsule or pill, but a food with all its advantages such as pleasure and taste. Functional foods have to be as safe as normal food and also have to declare its ingredients on the package. (EUFIC)

Functional foods. Why do we need it?

There are several reasons for functional foods. It helps for example people to address a special health problem but don´t want to take extra pills. Other people aren´t able to maintain a healthy diet all day, but they want to be sure to get everything their body needs. For them functional foods are an easy way to eat healthy. Last but not least functional foods can even help you, when you think to follow a healthy diet. The simple question is: Do the fruits, vegetables etc. really contain all the vitamins, unsaturated fatty acids and all the healthy ingredients they should? Are they stored in the right way? Are they fresh enough? How long took the way from the farm to the supermarket? Often the healthy content is sensitive to temperature, light, time and so on. And it is difficult to see what happens to fruits before you eat it, except it is grown in your own garden. So functional foods can add some reliability to your daily diet.

Functional foods. For what does it help?

There are a lot of health issue you can address via functional foods. Consumers can already benefit from a wide range of foods that contain functional components inherently (e.g. soy, cranberries) or via fortification.

Probiotic yoghurts are enriched with special microorganisms to support your gut flora. This helps to balance your digestion and can even support your immune system.

High cholesterol is a serious threat to your heart health. Special sandwich spreads containing phytosterols help to reduce the cholesterol and the risk of a heart attack. A similar effect is attributed to cereals fortified with inulin. Other foods are fortified with omega-3-fatty acids also supporting a healthy heart.

Athletes want to build up muscles without eating too much calories. Often they take special protein bars, which helps them to cover their increased protein requirements.

Very common but hardly realized as functional food is iodized table salt, supporting thyroid function.

Functional Foods. A growing market worldwide

With increasing research and rising awareness on the association of food ingredients and physiological benefits, the functional food market is expected to grow continuously over the next decade to reach $ 3.4 billion by 2015 (Businesswire). In particular, the naturally healthy category and products targeting heart health, weight management, digestive health and vitality are of consumer interest (Nutraingredients). 

Vital Solutions. Natural Solutions for functional foods

Having a strong expertise in the area of high quality natural health ingredients, we develop functional food concepts containing our branded ingredients and providing health benefits without compromising on taste. Our product range includes Benegut® -  to improve gastrointestinal comfort, Bluenesse® - to support cognitive performance, Recoverben®  - for sports nutrition and Careless™ to support physical capacity and healthy metabolism.

Functional foods are generally considered as foods that contain ingredients, which provide a health benefit, over and above the provision of basic nutrients (EUFIC)