According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, “Functional Foods are foods or dietary components that may provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition”. You can take greater control of your health through the food choices you make, knowing that some foods can provide specific health benefits. Examples can include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fortified or enhanced foods and beverages, and some dietary supplements. Biologically active components in functional foods may impart health benefits or desirable physiological effects. Functional attributes of many traditional foods are being discovered, while new food products are being developed with beneficial components.”
So, functional foods are eaten not for the sake of taste (although there is no reason for them not to taste great) and they are not eaten for emotional reasons. Functional foods are eaten because of the practical health or energy value.
For instance, Vitamin A is found to protect cells from free radicals which cause the arteries to “rust”. Vitamin A can be obtained in good amounts from liver, dairy products, and fish. Thus, vitamin A consideration can be a motivation behind eating liver, salmon, cheese, and so on and so forth. Charts can be found online that show the vitamins, minerals, or biochemicals supplied by different foods and what health benefits they have.
Functional foods and dietary supplements go hand in hand for optimal health. Dietary supplements are required because there are some enzymes, vitamins, or minerals that we don’t get enough of for one reason or another in our foods, sometimes because our bodies need more of them than our bodies can effectively store or our bodies don’t produce enough.
One of these important dietary supplements is magnesium. Without sufficient amounts of magnesium in the body, people are prone to the ravages of Type II diabetes, post-menopause weight gain (in females), and overall “accelerated aging”.
Another dietary supplement that people should consider is Co-Q10. Co0Q10 is found in every cell of the body–but, unfortunately, it is very quickly burned up to meet the body’s needs. Co-Q10 is an electron-donor, which makes possible the mitochondria’s metabolic chemistry; in other words, it is cellular fuel, which the magnesium spark sets a-burning.
Then there is carnitene. Like Co-Q10, carnitene is found throughout most of the cells of the body. Carnitene is responsible for the beta-oxidation of fats, and as such is the transporter of fat into the mitochondria. Keep in mind that the heart relies on fats just as the brain relies on sugars, or glucose.
Still a fourth needed dietary supplement is ribose. Ribose is a pentagonal glucose molecule which lies at the heart of the ATP molecule, which is what the mitochondria produce and which is responsible for maintaining, at base, all of the electrical processes of the body.
Another great dietary supplement is the herb ginseng. Ginseng provides extra energy, more mental clarity, stress reduction, and can help with weight loss. It can also help with sexual health problems in males.