Functional Foods: Types and Benefits

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Meagan Moyer, Registered Dietitian
Truly all foods have function in our bodies, but when we see that term “functional foods,” it really means above and beyond the basics of nutrition. Some functional foods have properties that have been shown to help prevent certain diseases, as well as improve our overall health.

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The best functional foods are going to be our whole foods. I like to use the tagline “closest to nature” -- choose foods that grow in nature, rather than something that’s been processed by us. A great tip for that is try shopping the perimeter

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of the grocery store rather than the inside. There truly is a definition of what a functional food is, so consumers really have to look at the packages. Educate yourself. I say look more at the back of the package than the front of the package, because some food companies use health claims as marketing.

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Don’t be fooled by fortification – whole nutritious foods will actually be more beneficial for a body than anything that’s been added to it. For example if something has omega-3 fatty acids added to it, you’re really better off just eating salmon.