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Britt MacArthur, Katherine Mykytka,

Rebecca Dover, Kerri Kimzey, & Jessica
What is a functional food?
Functional Foods
• Functional foods are foods that contain
additional benefits which exceed their basic
nutritional value

• A functional food should be nutritious before

additional supplements are added.

• Today they include a wide range of items

including whole grains, fruits, fatty fish, and
foods or beverages that have been fortified or
• Over two thousand years ago Hippocrates said, "Let
food be thy medicine." Although the concept of
functional foods is not entirely new, it has evolved
considerably over the years.

• The basis for the progression of interest in functional

foods can be found all the back in the 1920s when
iodine began being added to salt to prevent goiters.
• Other twentieth-century examples include vitamin A
and D fortification of milk and niacin and folic acid
fortification of grains.
• These early fortification examples focused on
reducing the risk of diseases of deficiency. In the
latter part of the twentieth century, consumers began
to focus on wellness and the reduction of chronic
• Research now focuses frequently on the promotion of
health through many lifestyle factors, including the
consumption of an optimal diet.
• As of 2002, researchers have identified hundreds of
food components with functional qualities, and they
continue to make new discoveries surrounding the
complex benefits of phytochemicals in foods.
• American Dietetic Association position
-The American Dietetic Association made a
statement earlier this year about their position
on the issue. They gave their support for the
usage of functional foods and for research into
advancing the field and furthering the benefits
of their incorporation into a balanced, varied
diet for all individuals.
Rationale and Regulation
• Consumer demand has increased development of functional
foods, due in part to:
-Increased health care costs, an awareness and desire to
enhance personal health, advancing scientific evidence that
diet can alter disease prevalence and progression, aging
population, and changes in food regulation

• The Food and Drug Administration- regulation

• Conventional/Unmodified whole foods such as
fruits and vegetables: represent the simplest
form of a functional food
Ex. Carrots are considered to be functional
foods because they are rich in such
physiologically active components such as beta
• Modified foods (fortified and enhanced foods) are
also considered to be functional
Fruits & Vegetables
• the simplest form of functional foods

• A natural form

• One of best sources for antioxidants and

Why are fruits & vegetables
• oxidation= the loss of an electron
• Produces reactive substances known as free
radicals that cause damage to cells
• Caused by: normally during metabolism, body’s
immune system purposefully creates them to
neutralize viruses and bacteria, & environmental
factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette
smoke and herbicides
• Natural process in the body
• Causes degenerative diseases associated with
aging and cancer
• Natural components present in fruits and
• Stabilizes free radicals before they cause harm
• Present in vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and
• Due to the naturally occurring process of
oxidation, we must have a balance of
antioxidants to maintain health
• One type of antioxidants
• Promote optimal health by lowering
risk for chronic diseases
• Only found in plant foods
• Fruits and vegetables are best
• Beta-carotene
– Sources: carrots, various fruits, sweet potatoes,
leafy green vegetables, red peppers, & pumpkin
– Specifically reduces risk for lung cancer
• Lutein & Zeaxanthin
– Sources: kale, collards, spinach, corn, & citrus
– Reduces risk of cancer & promotes eye health
(specifically macular degeneration)
• Lycopene
– Sources: tomatoes
– Reduces risk of prostate cancer
• Anthocyanidins
– Sources: berries, cherries, red grapes
– Contributes to maintenance of brain function
• Flavanols
– Sources: apples, grapes
– Contributes to maintenance of heart health
• Flavanones
– Sources: citrus foods
– Reduces risk of cancer
More flavonoids
• Flavonols
• Sources: onions, apples, broccoli
• Reduces risk of cancer
• Proanthocyanidins
• Sources: cranberries, apples, strawberries,
• Promotes urinary tract health and heart
• Sulforaphane
• Sources: cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels
sprouts, cabbage, kale, horseradish, turnips
• Reduces risk of cancer
• Caffeic acid/ Ferulic acid
• Sources: apples, pears, citrus fruits,
some vegetables
• Promotes healthy vision and heart
Plant Stanols/Sterols
• Free stanols/sterols
• Sources: corn
• May reduce risk of Coronary Heart
• Inulin, Fructo-oligosaccharides,
• Sources: onions, some fruits, garlic,
• Improves gastrointestinal health
and calcium absorption
• Lignans
• Sources: some vegetables
• Promotes heart health and healthy
immune function
• Reduces risk of breast cancer
• Diallyl sulfide, allyl methyl trisulfide
– Sources: garlic, onions, leeks, scallions
– Promotes heart health and healthy immune
• Dithiolthiones
– Sources: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels
sprouts, cabbage, turnips
– Promotes healthy immune function
– Detoxifies carcinogens
• Less than 10% of Americans eat 2
servings of fruit and 3 servings of
vegetables each day

• Over 70% eat no fruits or vegetables rich

in Vitamin C per day

• 80% eat no fruits or vegetables rich in

carotenoids per day

• 3-5 servings of vegetables


• 2-4 servings of fruits everyday

Functional foods and drinks are products that have been
enriched with added nutrients or other substances that are
considered to have a positive influence on health. Examples
include cholesterol lowering spreads and foods with added
nutrients, such as plant sterols and stanols, omega-3 fatty
acids, and soy proteins. Lets take a look at the more popular
functional foods currently on the market, and see how they
may benefit our health and the evidence behind some of the
claims being made about them.
Plant stanols and sterols
• Plant stanols and sterols are plant-derived lipids
which are of particular interest because of their
potential health benefits, particularly in relation to
cardiovascular disease (CVD).
• Sterols are essential components of plant cell
membranes and play a key role in controlling
membrane fluidity and permeability.
• Stanols are saturated sterols and occur naturally in
small amounts in plant products such as nuts,
seeds and legumes.
Plant stanols and sterols
• Both plant stanols and sterols have a structure that
is very similar to cholesterol.

• They have been incorporated into many food

products, most notably fat spreads, otherwise
known as ‘cholesterol-lowering spreads’.

• Studies have found that consuming approximately

2g of plant stanols or sterols each day leads to a
significant reduction in cholesterol concentrations
in people with elevated cholesterol levels.

• Found to lower total and low density lipoprotein

(LDL) cholesterol, without affecting high density
lipoprotein (HDL); therefore thought to be effective
in reducing the risk of heart disease
Plant stanols and sterols
• It is not possible to acquire their benefits by consuming
plant foods alone. Products with added plant stanols and
sterols need to be consumed in order to obtain their

• Studies have shown that these products also have the

potential to significantly reduce both total and LDL
cholesterol when consumed regularly with meals.

• Studies have also shown that the cholesterol lowering

benefits of plant stanols and sterols are independent of
diet, and greater cholesterol reductions can be achieved
by following an overall healthy diet, exercising, and
reducing saturated fat intake, while in addition to
consuming products containing plant stanols and sterols
(Andersson et al, 1999).
Plant stanols and sterols
• Although plant stanols and sterols have been shown to effectively
reduce cholesterol concentrations at an intake of 2g per day.
• There is currently no direct evidence that they actually reduce the
incidence of CVD events (i.e. heart disease and stroke)
More trials are required to determine the effectiveness of
plant stanols and sterols and their affect on CVD events.

• The use of foods with added plant stanols and sterols is also of
questionable benefit in individuals who do not suffer from elevated
• However, the consumption of such products (including cholesterol-
lowering spreads, yogurts and other drinks) as part of an otherwise
healthy diet, has been shown to be a promising addition, as intervention,
for heart disease prevention.
Products with added
• Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of
polyunsaturated fatty acid.

• Certain omega-3 fatty acids are termed

‘essential’ because they cannot be made in the
body and therefore have to be provided by the
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
• There has been considerable interest in the long-chain
omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

• =

• Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Which are derived from alpha-linolenic acid
However, the conversion of ALA to the longer-chain omega-3
fatty acids-EPA and DHA- is considered to be very limited
in humans, so additional dietary sources are needed.

 =
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
• The interest steamed from a study done in the late 1970s on the
Greenland Inuits. The study showed a low occurrence of coronary
heart disease (CHD) in this Eskimo population which was attributed
to their traditional diet of marine plants and animals particularly
oily, fatty fish.

• All sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.

• The best dietary source of EPA and DHA is oily, fatty fish, but now
there are increasing numbers of products on the market that have
been fortified with EPA and DHA, such as eggs, bread, milk, and
dairy products.
Health Effects of Omega-3
• The cardiovascular benefits from long chain omega-3
fatty acid consumption have been attributed to their
anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting effects.

• Consumption of fish, particularly fatty fish, offers

significant health benefits in terms of a reduction in
the risk of CVD.
• Moderate fish consumption and fish oil supplementation
raised blood levels of DHA and slowed down the progression
of abnormal thickening of artery walls due to fatty deposits
(a condition that restricts blood flow to the heart, called
Omega-3 and Cognitive
 There has recently been a lot of speculation,
particularly in the media, that omega-3 fatty
acids may influence cognitive function and
behavior, particularly in children. However,
research in this area is still in its early stages,
and so far there is little evidence that
supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, in the
form of fish oils, leads to improvements in
cognitive function (Lunn and Theobald, 2006).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
• While the benefits of including fish, particularly oily fish, in the
diet are well recognized, many people do not eat oily fish
regularly and, therefore, it is important to eat other dietary
sources of omega-3 fats.

• There are a wide range of products with added omega-3

currently on the market but it is important to consider their
• For example, it is important to take into account whether products
actually provide the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA)
or simply the shorter-chain omega-3 fatty acid, ALA.

• The amount of omega-3 provided is also an important factor: as

a benchmark, an intake of two portions of fish per week,
including one oily, is equivalent to 450mg per day of omega-3
fatty acids.
Soy Protein
• Another major interest for atherosclerosis
prevention has been addressed to vegetable
proteins, particularly soy proteins whose
consumption has been shown to successfully
reduce cholesterolemia in experimental animals,
as well as in humans with cholesterol elevations
of genetic or non genetic origin.
Soy Protein
One study addresses the potential of soy protein to increase
low-density lipoproteins receptors (LDL-R) expression in
human beings.

Procedure: Compared two groups

Group One: Patients were treated with animal protein
Group Two: Patients were treated with textured soy protein
(with the addition of cholesterol to balance the two diets)

Group One:
• After the animal protein diet there were minimal changes in low-
density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels or LDL-R activity,
Group Two:
• The soy protein diet, in addition to a LDL-C reduction, showed an ↑ of
around eightfold in total LDL degradation. This study, clearly suggests
that some soy protein components are able to up-regulate LDL-R,
decrease LDL-C, resulting in total LDL degradation.
Soy Protein
• A full understanding of the mechanism of action of soy
protein has become vital for the selection of the most
appropriate forms of soy for treating hypercholesterolemia
(high blood cholesterol and triglycerides) .

• This selection can only be made once the active

component/s and their mechanism of action have been
fully revealed
• So what’s in Soy Protein or rather soybeans?
• The major storage proteins in soybeans are 7S and 11S
globulins: from early studies the 7S globlin appear to be
primarily responsible for the hypocholesterolemic effects of
soy protein, whereas the 11S component appeared
essentially inactive.
Soy Protein
An interesting activity on hypercholesterolemia and body weight was

Gave a daily administration of four candies containing 5 g of 7S globulin
to moderately overweight Japanese individuals with

↓ TGs by 14%
↑raised HDL-C by 5%

Exerted a remarkable 6% reduction in the mean visceral fat area.

The remarkable effectiveness of this very simple regimen thus
reinforces the recommendation to increase the intake of soy proteins
for cardiovascular protection.
Dietary Fibers
• Dietary fibers refer to the remains of
plant cells that are resistant to
hydrolysis by human enzymes

• Positive influence on constipation,

hyperlipidemias, diabetes, obesity, and
diverticular disease
Dietary Fibers
• Many different kinds:
– General dietary fibers
• Carbohydrate and lipid metabolism modulation,
antioxidants, phytonutrients
– Insoluble fiber
• Aid to digestion, promote regularity, prevent constipation
– Soluble fiber
• Protective benefits
– Viscous polysaccharides
• Cholesterol lowering
– Intermediate fibers
• Prebiotic effect, cholesterol lowering
– Resistant starch
• Bowel function
Which Carbohydrate offers
more dietary fiber?

1 slice whole wheat bread


1 slice white bread?

Which Carbohydrate offers
more dietary fiber?

⅓ cup bran flakes


⅓ cup corn flakes?

Which Carbohydrate offers
more dietary fiber?

1 cup white rice


1 cup brown rice?

Which Carbohydrate offers
more dietary fiber?

½ cup strawberries


½ cup grapes?
Which Carbohydrate offers
more dietary fiber?

1 baked potato with skin


½ cup mashed potatoes without skin?

Which Carbohydrate offers
more dietary fiber?

1 tbsp. wheat germ


1 tbsp. wheat bran?

Dietary Fibers
• Drawbacks:
– Difficult to incorporate “pure” polysaccharide
fractions in food products
– May cause gas

• Food Sources:
– Whole grains – wheat, corn, oats, rice
– Legumes
– Cereals
– Broccoli
– Oatmeal
– Beans
Oligosaccharides (NDOs)
• Extracted from natural sources
• Synthesized by transferases
• Resistant to human intestinal enzymes
• Three categories of nutritional properties
• Strong
• Promising
• Preliminary
Oligosaccharides (NDOs)
• 2 main NDOs:
• Inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides
• Modify bowel habits
• Fecal bulking
• Normalization of stool frequency
• Prebiotic effect
• Help manage diabetes
• Improved bone health
Oligosaccharides (NDOs)
• Modulation of lipid metabolism

• Prevention against colon cancer

• More promising than dietary fibers and

resistant starches

• Main benefit: bifidobacteria

Oligosaccharides (NDOs)
• Food sources:
• beans
• wheat
• rye
• barley
Sugar Alcohols
• Derived from starch, sucrose, and
• Provide energy but low in calories
• Commonly combined with sweeteners
or as additives in gum, candies,
beverages, and snack foods
• Absorbed slowly and incompletely
• May prevent/reduce dental carries
Sugar Alcohols
• Sorbitol
• Mannitol
• Xylitol
• Isomalt
Sugar Alcohols
• Drawbacks
• Bloating and diarrhea
• Weight gain when overeaten
• Laxative effect
• 2 Main Types

• Vitamin D Fortification

• Probiotic Addition
Vitamin D
• Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in
the American diet.
• Milk fortification plan was first implemented in
the 1930s.
• Recent studies have reported a possible
resurgence of childhood rickets, as well as
hypovitaminosis D in schoolchildren and the
• Approximately 30 to 40% of the U.S. population
is estimated to be deficient in Vitamin D.
Selected Food Sources of
Vitamin D
Food IUs per serving Percent DV

Milk, nonfat, reduced fat,

and whole, vitamin D-
98 25
fortified, 1 cup
Yogurt, fortified with 20% 80 20
of the DV for vitamin, 6
Margarine, fortified, 1 60 15
Current Barriers to Adequate
Vitamin D Intake
• Problems with the consumption of fluid milk
• The U.S. has experienced pronounced declines in the
overall consumption of milk in the last decade.
• Studies conducted to examine the possibility of
increasing the level of vitamin D fortification
• Data also demonstrated that vitamin D is equally
bioavailable from fortified hard cheeses.
• What are Probiotics?
• Living microorganisms, usually lactic acid
• Term first used in 1965 for describing
substances secreted by one organism which
stimulate the growth of another.
• Beneficial due to the effects on different
intestinal functions
• Several different types are being introduced
in a variety of dairy products around the
The Intestinal Microflora
• There are over 400 types of bacteria
found in the gastrointestinal tract.

• The types and number of bacteria are

influenced by several factors:
• Stress
• Antibiotics
• Aging
• Diet
Health Claims for Probiotics
• Enhance the host’s immune system
• Improve intestinal tract health
• Reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance
• Reduce the risk of certain cancers
• Beneficial in a variety of diseases and
metabolic problems
• Crohn’s disease
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Cholesterol metabolism
• Diverticulitis
Challenges Associated with
Establishing Health Claims for
• Identification of microorganisms
• Enumeration of microorganisms
• Efficacy testing
• Clinical trials and active ingredients
• Dosage of probiotic bacteria
• Safety aspects
Mechanism of Action
• Partial lactose digestion and stimulation of the intestinal
mucosal lactase activity
• Lactobilli used in the fermented milk industry have active
• Lactic acid bacteria produce several metabolites which
prevent the growth of food borne pathogens in dairy
• Can use enymatic mechanisms to modify toxin receptors
and block toxin mediated pathology
• Prevent colonization of pathogens by competitive inhibition
• Lower intestinal pH
• Release of gut protective metabolites
• Regulation of intestinal motility and mucus production
Use of Probiotics: Study-based
• Evidences of probiotic effectiveness in
Necrotising Enterocolitis
• Diarrhea
• Inflammatory bowel disease
• Cancers
• Surgical infections
Other Benefits
• Role in prevention of transmission of
• Antibacterial effects
• Probiotics in critical illness
• Probiotics in allergic diseases
• Possible effects on serum lipid levels

Guidelines for the

Evaluation of
Probiotics in Food
Further Considerations
• Disturbing natural intestinal microflora
• Regulated and proper manufacturing
• Marketing tool for many companies
• Status of the microorganisms
• Possible lack of well-controlled studies
in humans
• As long as they are substantially regulated and
consumers take the time to discern the
legitimacy of food claims, functional foods can
be a great asset to the progression of the
nutrition field.

• It is important to note that functional foods are

not magic bullets — they can’t make up for a
diet that is high in saturated fat or sugar.
• Functional foods are simply meant to be a
complement to lifestyle change, as well as
prevention. They are not meant as a sole source
of treatment.

• Moderation is truly the key, as with everything in


• As Paracelsus said in the 15th century, “All

substances are poisons... the right dose
differentiates a poison from a remedy.”
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