Functional foods: what they are, benefits and types
Some time ago we were able to meet some of the benefits of functional foods, in an article in which we highlighted some of the virtues and properties that the Functional Foods for the health of those people who eat them.
Precisely because of this issue, we know that functional foods come to be natural foods that have been "modified" so that they have greater benefits and properties for health.
For example, there are Functional Foods that have to do with natural foods in which one of its components has been improved from special growing conditions; a food that has had a component removed so that it has fewer side effects (or is added to produce benefits); a food chemically improved for the benefit of health.
What are they and what benefits do they offer?
The Functional Foods are those foods that, independently of the nutritional contributions they have, have been scientifically proven to beneficially affect one or different functions of the organism.
This means that functional foods provide a better and better state of wellbeing and health, so it can be said that they play a certainly preventive role, by reducing the various risk factors that in themselves can cause the onset of diseases.
Among the most important functional foods we find the enriched foods, either in vitamins or minerals, which bring to the people who take them important benefits, virtues and properties for health.
Most consumed types and varieties
But this time we will not go back to comment on what are functional foods, much less what are their benefits. We are going to know, precisely, the different types of functional foods that exist.
They are live microorganisms that, ingested in both recommended and adequate amounts, have effects that are certainly beneficial for health.
However, so that these microorganisms can be probiotics, must be of human origin, non-pathogenic by nature, resistant to destruction by gastric and biliary secretions, be able to colonize the gastrointestinal tract, and be resistant to destruction by technological procedures.
They are components of the own food that are not absorbed in the small intestine, but that when arriving at the colon, they favor the growth and the activity in himself of the beneficial bacteria for the organism.
Among the most commonly used prebiotics, the following stand out: strain L. Casei DN-114 001, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus.
Foods with bifidus effect (bifidogenic effect)
They are foods that have an effect through which the development of beneficial intestinal flora is promoted, such as Lactobacillus and Bifibacterium.
They come to be "special" functional foods, since they contain prebiotics and probiotics, which positively and beneficially influence the organism to improve the survival and implantation of live microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract.
Among the most outstanding functional foods that we currently find in the market, we distinguish:
- Enriched milk and fermented milk: They are rich milk omega-3 acids (EPA and DHA), so they help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or different types of cancer, improving even the development of nerve tissue itself and visual functions, also reducing inflammatory processes.
- Milks and enriched yogurts: They come with vitamins A Y D, calcium, or with phosphorus and zinc, and they help mainly to the development of bones and teeth, preventing the appearance of osteoporosis, favoring the absorption of calcium, and improving the immune system.