Functional Food

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Definition of Functional Foods History of Functional Plainly stated, functional foods are Labeling and Claims Foods defined as foods that, in addition to supplying known nutrients, can provide other health benefits as well. Many common foods possess nutritional qualities that are not established as recommended nutrients, but are considered to have functional benefits such as reducing your risk of disease or promoting good health. A good example of a functional food would be the cranberry, known to promote healthy bacterial flora in the urinary tract which can lower the risk of urinary tract infections. The concept of using foods to prevent disease and/or promote health is not new. In the early 1900’s, the practice of fortifying table salt with iodine to prevent goiter was an early attempt at creating a functional food. Since that time, many foods that we are familiar with have become fortified, such as breakfast cereals, orange juice, milk and grain foods. Other foods that have lost some of their nutrient content due to processing are enriched with the lost nutrients. Classic examples of enriched foods are bread and bakery products. More recently, as technology has improved, scientists have come to recognize the advantages of a natural balance of wholesome foods. With the advancement of genetic engineering, crops can now be grown that optimize their beneficial nutritional qualities. Functional foods have been selected because of their qualities designed by nature to promote health and prevent disease beyond their basic nutrient content. As yet there is no legal definition of what constitutes a functional food. The Food and Drug Administration regulates functional foods no differently than other foods. Food manufacturers must receive pre-market approval from FDA to assure the safety of ingredients. In addition, all health claims must be authorized by FDA based on extensive review of scientific literature. Since 1994 there have been 14 approved health claims that...
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