Eating for Health: Unlocking the Power of Functional Foods
Eating isn’t just about fulfilling your nutritional needs; it’s a way to nourish both your body and soul. Introducing functional foods into your diet takes that nourishment to new heights — literally.
Functional foods are powerhouses of nutrients that provide an extra kick of energy, boosting you in more ways than one. It’s no wonder these days more people are turning towards functional foods as they can help individuals reach their goals while enjoying the taste, texture and aroma of their favorite eats. So yes, nutrition matters, but sometimes having fun with food is just as important!
Functional foods offer advantages of supercharging your nutrition, such as through vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, probiotics, or fiber. But don’t worry – eating functional foods for health is anything but boring!
If you’ve been looking for a way to boost your health and wellness, you may want to consider adding functional foods to your diet.
Let’s explore the world of functional foods and discover how they can help you stay healthy and happy.
What Are Functional Foods?
Functional foods are those that have higher amounts of nutrients or health-promoting properties. For example, foods that are naturally rich in phytonutrients, probiotics, and fiber – think nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
In addition to providing extra nutrition to your diet, functional foods also offer other benefits such as reducing risk factors for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes; improving digestion; boosting energy levels; promoting weight loss; and more.
What are Phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients are compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables that provide numerous health benefits.
Different types of phytonutrients, such as carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols, can boost immunity, reduce inflammation, increase energy levels and even help to prevent a variety of diseases.
For example, one type of carotenoid called lycopene is linked to a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease while other carotenoids can help maintain clear vision.
In addition, the antioxidant properties of flavonoids have been proven to reduce blood pressure as well as fight harmful free radicals.
The possibilities of what phytonutrients can do for us are truly remarkable! It’s no wonder nutrition experts emphasize the importance of consuming a wide variety of colorful produce each day.
So when it comes down to it, phytonutrients are pretty powerful players when it comes to promoting good health.
What are carotenoids?
Carotenoids are a type of nutrient found in a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Eating carotenoid-rich foods may be one of the best ways to give our health a boost!
Part of the reason why higher intakes of carotenoids can improve our health is that their antioxidant activity helps protect cells from oxidative damage caused by everyday life stressors such as pollution, UV light and other environmental toxins.
Research suggests that consuming carotenoid-rich foods can help reduce the risk for diseases like cancer and heart disease, as well as slow down the aging process.
As you can see, there’s even more reason not to skimp on your fruits and veggies – it’s not only great for your waistline, but also for your overall wellness!
These deep, vibrant hued foods are like little nutrition cheerleaders, helping to protect against heart disease, macular degeneration, and perhaps even cancer.
They say eating a rainbow of colors is good for you, and it’s true. Eating carotenoid-rich foods can be a fun and delicious way to reap some serious health benefits – so why not enjoy…
- a verdant plate of wild caught salmon;
- a deep red bowl of sweet tomato soup; or
- an orange platter of roasted squash?
With something for everyone, carotenoid-rich dishes are sure to make your taste buds burst with joy. So let’s all grab some natural shades of yellow, orange and red from the produce aisle and get cooking!
What are flavonoids?
Flavonoids are powerful micronutrients that are found in many of the foods we eat, like fruits and vegetables. They’re hailed as true superheroes of nutrition due to their strong antioxidant properties and impressive potential health benefits.
From helping our bodies to reduce inflammation, fight cell damage, and even boost immunity, flavonoids have really made a name for themselves among science gurus and health-lovers alike. While they may be small molecules, they show real big results when it comes to protecting us from illnesses and promoting overall well-being.
If you’re looking to boost your flavonoid intake, there are a number of delicious and easy-to-obtain options.
These juicy fruits will do your body good…
And for those times when a piece of fruit just isn’t enough, add a handful of nuts to your meal as almonds and walnuts are high in flavonoids.
Even relatively humble vegetables like onions contain high levels of this important nutrient.
Don’t forget the spices either; cumin, oregano and mustard seed can all be added to salads or stir-fries for an extra flavor punch as well as a healthy boost on the flavonoid front.
With so many delicious options at our disposal, having an abundant diet rich in flavonoids has never been easier!
What are Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are powerful phytochemicals found in plants and their extracts. Not to be confused with monosodium glutamate, polyphenols provide many amazing benefits to our health when ingested.
These incredible compounds have a variety of antioxidant effects, which can help protect cells from oxidative stress that can build up over time.
Furthermore, research suggests that increasing our daily intake of polyphenols is associated with lowering the risk of certain debilitating diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and dementia.
More importantly, these superpowered molecules just might make us feel superhuman! More on polyphenols >
Polyphenols are the superheroes of the plant world, found in such natural drinks and foods as
- cocoa beans
Enjoy a cup of blueberry tea for an easy way to boost your polyphenol intake!
If you prefer something harder than tea to get your antioxidant fix, why not kick back with a glass of Pinot Noir or indulge in some dark chocolate?
With so many flavors and variations fit for any palate, it’s no wonder so many people choose polyphenol-rich foods—or “superfoods“—to keep themselves energized and healthy!
What are probiotics?
Probiotics aren’t just for yogurt anymore. These tiny, dietary microorganisms are taking the healthcare world by storm and coming to the rescue of our health, one day at a time.
Probiotics help to support and maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in our digestive systems. This can aid digestion, reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and even improve mood by affecting it-producing hormones!
Probiotics-rich foods are all the rage for maintaining gut health and overall wellness these days.
From traditional yogurt to more exotic fare like kimchi, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from. Some of the most popular probiotic foods include…
- and even certain sourdough breads
But don’t forget about some of the classic brews like kombucha or sugary treats like dark chocolate – these can be surprisingly high in probiotics!
So whatever your flavor preference, you’re sure to find something that works with your diet and keeps you healthy. Probiotics can be an absolute game changer in your health journey!
What is Nutritional Fiber?
Nutritional fiber is a unique and essential nutrient found in plant-based foods like grains, fruits, veggies, and legumes.
Not only does it provide us with a healthy source of energy, but it also serves as a vital part of our digestive system.
Eating adequate amounts of fiber can help lower cholesterol levels and assist in preventing certain diseases by binding to harmful toxins that would otherwise pass into the bloodstream.
Fiber also helps keep our body feeling full after eating and can help regulate our blood sugar levels. Ultimately, snacking on some high-fiber snacks can do wonders for our physical health!
Filling up on fiber-rich foods has never been so easy! Whether you’re looking for a crunchy and delicious snack, or a nutritious lunch or dinner dish, there are plenty of fiber-rich options.
If you want to munch on something crunchy, fruits and vegetables like…
… are all excellent sources of fiber – think of them as nature’s chips!
Whole grains like…
- brown rice
…are also fantastic sources for your daily dose of fiber.
Legumes such as beans, lentils and peas have got it all: they contain tons of protein and complex carbohydrates in addition to being full of dietary fiber.
Eating healthy is easier than ever when you include some tasty and satisfying fiber-rich food into your meal plan!
Benefits of Eating Functional Foods
Eating functional foods is a great way to get more out of your meals than just plain nutrition. These special ingredients provide an array of health benefits that go beyond simple nutrition – from reducing risk factors for chronic diseases to promoting better digestion and even helping with weight loss efforts.
Additionally, some functional food items are known for their anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce inflammation throughout the body – something especially important for athletes who put their bodies through rigorous training sessions each day. (Try these inflammation busting smoothies!)
Finally, these special ingredients can add flavor and texture to dishes while still providing all the essential nutrients needed for a balanced meal. The combination of taste and nutrition makes them ideal additions to any healthy eating plan!
Boost your health by eating functional foods
Whether you’re looking for an easy way to add nutrition into your diet or simply seeking out healthier options for meals — adding functional foods into your routine is a great place start!
From boosting energy levels and promoting weight loss to reducing inflammation throughout the body — there truly is something beneficial in every bite when it comes to functional food items.