Functional Foods Cruz Guillén, S. FUNCTIONAL FOODS

SUMMARY The new tendencies in the consumption pattern caused by a bigger interest in the people for consuming natural food that reduce the risk of diseases without need to use medications, has generated the appearance of new enterprises in the line of functional foods. Functional foods are foods that provide more than basic nutrition; they have bioactive food components than can potentially enhance health when eaten on a regular basis as part of a varied diet. The communication of health benefits is also important for the people so that they have knowledge to make choices about the foods they eat.

The research opportunities in nutrition to explore the relationship between a food or a food component and an improved state of health and well-being, or reduction of disease, present the greatest challenge to scientists now and in the future.

INTRODUCTION With the increase of the population life expectancy, the nutrition has proceeded to being a very relevant factor in the life quality of the people and in the prevention of the most frequent diseases.

The evidences accumulated in the last years in public health and nutrition, they indicate that diseases depend so much of our genetic condition as of our nutrition, physical activity, habit to smoke, of our social connections and

Functional Foods Cruz Guillén, S. environment. Nutrition is the most important of all these factors and the population has recognized the importance of that factor in its health, being stricter in the foods election they consume.

The primary role of diet is to provide sufficient nutrients to meet the nutritional requirements of each one. Now, there is increasing scientific evidence to support the hypothesis that some foods and food components have beneficial physiological and psychological effects over and above the provision of the basic nutrients. Bhatty (1992), mention that the foods are compound for thousands of constituent biologically active that they can have a beneficial effect for health.

Today, nutrition science has moved the classical concepts of avoiding nutrient deficiencies and basic nutritional adequacy to the concept of "positive" or "optimal" nutrition. The research focus has shifted more to the identification of biologically active components in foods that have the potential to optimize physical and mental well being and which may also reduce the risk of disease. Many traditional food products including fruits, vegetables, soya, whole grains and milk have been found to contain components with potential health benefits. In addition to these foods, new foods are being developed to enhance or incorporate these beneficial components for their health benefits or desirable physiological effects

Functional Foods Cruz Guillén, S. DEFINITION OF FUNCTIONAL FOODS

Fig. 01: Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants

The concept of functional foods was developed in Japan in the 1980s, health authorities in Japan recognized that to control the health care generated for the increasing life expectancy of the elderly population, it was necessary to insure also a better life quality. So, a new concept of foods developed specifically to improve the health and to reduce the risk to contract diseases was introduced: Functional foods.

Functional foods can be defined as foods that contain one or more added ingredients to provide a positive health benefit, over and above the normal functions of food to provide nutrient, satisfy physiological and psychological hunger and provide pleasure from eating. This definition excludes vitamins and minerals added to foods to replace losses in manufacture. Examples of functional foods include foods that contain specific minerals, vitamins, fatty acids or dietary fiber, foods with added biologically active substances such as phytochemicals or other antioxidants.

Functional Foods Cruz Guillén, S. WHY DO WE NEED FUNCTIONAL FOODS? Consumer interest in the relationship between diet and health has increased substantially. There is much greater recognition today that people can help themselves and their families to reduce the risk of disease and to maintain their health state and well being through a healthy lifestyle, including the diet. Also population the demographics and socio-economic changes point to the need for foods with added health benefits. An increase in life expectancy, resulting in an increase in the number of elderly and the desire for an improved life quality, as well as increasing costs of health care, have stimulated governments, researchers, health professionals and the food industry to see how these changes can be managed more effectively. There is already a wide range of foods available to today's consumer but now the impetus is to identify those functional foods that have the potential to improve health and well-being, reduce the risk from, major diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer and osteoporosis. Combined with a healthy lifestyle, functional foods can make a positive contribution to health and well being.

Fig. 02: Functional Foods can reduce risk of diseases

Functional Foods Cruz Guillén, S. FUNCTIONAL FOODS AND THEIR BIOACTIVE COMPONENTS The beneficial health effects of functional foods are due to the presence of a myriad of bioactives that render their effects via a number of mechanisms at different levels. The diseases of concern include coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, brain health and mental disorders, immune response, inflammation, obesity, arthritis, in association with oxidative stress and metabolic syndrome. The substances may influence such diseases often originate from plant sources, but some are also derived from animals and micro-organisms.

The following provides some examples of functional foods ingredients that are currently available in the market in order to provide information necessary to appreciate their potential health benefits that are related to their bioactive constituents.

Dietary Fiber: Fiber is found only in plants and can be classified in two basic categories, those that are soluble in water and those that are insoluble. Most foods contain both types in varying amount, but certain foods are particularly rich in one or the other. The soluble fiber can prevent cholesterol absorption while the insoluble fiber increase fecal bulk and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants protect the cell in our body from damage by freeradical compounds. Regular intake of antioxidant-rich foods has the potential to ward off a variety of diseases; specifically it can reduce cancer risk and support healthy cardiovascular function.

Functional Foods Cruz Guillén, S. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid) are different types of omega-3 fatty acids. DHA and EPA are found in animal sources and are the most easily used omega-3 fat for our body. ALA is found in plant sources and our body must convert it to EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fats are shown to reduce heart disease risk, and help maintain mental and visual function.

EXAMPLES OF FUNCTIONAL FOODS FUNCTIONAL FOOD Yogurts, sugar ACTIVE FOOD COMPONENT POTENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS Probiotics: Foods with beneficial live Optimal intestinal function. cultures as a result of fermentation Intestinal microbial balance or that have been added to improve intestinal microbial balance, such as Lactobacillus sp. Bifidobacteria sp Prebiotics: A non-digestible

component that has beneficial affects by stimulating the growth of

bacteria in the colon. Examples include inulin and oligofructose. Cocoa, chocolate Tannins (proanthocyanidines) Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease Carrots, vegetables Green vegetables Lutein fruits, Alpha- and Beta-carotene Neutralize damage of free radicals to cells Reduce risk of muscular

degeneration. Tomato products Lycopene Reduce risk of prostate cancer

Functional Foods Cruz Guillén, S. (kectchup, sauces), watermelon Corn, soy, wheat Sterol and stanol esters Lower levels blood by cholesterol inhibiting

cholesterol absorptions Black and green tea Broccoli Garlic Catechins Sulforaphane Sulfur compounds Reduce risk of cancer Reduce risk of cancer Reduce risk of hearth disease and cancer Fish Omega-3 fatty acids Reduce risk of hearth disease. Control of hypertension,

lipids metabolism

Fig. 03: Examples of Functional Foods

Functional Foods Cruz Guillén, S. EXPECTATIONS FOR THE FUTURE A research of the 100 principal companies of the alimentary sector, published in the section R & D Magazine of the magazine Food Processing, it is indicated than the tendency of the consumers to consume foods functional is the principal factor that encourages the development of new alimentary products. The market of the functional foods is encouraged, principally, by the consumers' requirements, their enthusiasm to consume the foods that more be beneficial for health. As consumers worldwide become more health conscious, the demand for health-promoting foods and food components is expected to grow. The market for such foods is predicted to be quite large. Before the full market potential can be realized, however, consumers will need to be assured of the safety and efficacy of functional foods. Current and future scientific studies are expected to provide this assurance and to inspire confidence in functional foods in the minds of consumers worldwide.

CONCLUSION Functional foods offer great potential to improve health and help prevent certain diseases when taken as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. The research opportunities in nutrition to explore the relationship between a food or a food component and an improved state of health and well-being, or reduction of disease, present the greatest challenge to scientists now and in the future.

The communication of health benefits is also important for the people so that they have knowledge to make choices about the foods they eat.

Functional Foods Cruz Guillén, S. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mazza, G. 2000. Alimentos Funcionales: Aspectos Bioquímicos y de Procesado. España: Acribia. pp. 200, 216-218, 221

National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA). 2006. All about Functional Foods. p. 1,3

• •

Welch, R. W. 1995. The Oat Crop. London, New York: Chapman and Hall. Stephen, A. M., Dahl W. J., Johns D. M. and Englyst H. N. 1997. Efect of oat hull fibre on human colonic function and serum lipids. Cereal Chem. 74: 379-383

Bhatty, R. S. 1992. B-Glucan contentand viscosities of barleys and their rollermilled flour and bran products. Cereal Chem. 69: 469-471

Wattenherg, L. W. 1997. Inhibition of the carcinogenic effects of polycyclic hydrocarbons by benzyl isothioyanate and related compounds. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 58: 395-398.

• • •

Functional Foods. Date: 15/11/09. Alimentos Funcionales. Date: 15/11/09. Example of Functional Foods. Date: 17/11/09.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful