Functional Food


Austin J Nutri Food Sci. 2014;2(4): 1022.

Functional Food

Saleh Sawalha*

Department of Food Science and Technology, Faculty of Science and Technology, Al-Quds University, Palestine

*Corresponding author: :Saleh Sawalha, Department of Food Science and Technology, Faculty of Science and Technology, Al-Quds University, Palestine

Received: February 20, 2014; Accepted: March 13, 2014; Published: April 02, 2014

Traditionally, the healthiness of food has been linked to a nutritionally healthy diet recommended by nutrition specialists and the role of diet as a whole has been emphasized instead of emphasizing individual food items. Lately, new kinds of foods, so–called functional foods, have been developed and launched. They provide a novel approach to the idea of healthy eating by linking a single component with a certain health effect in a single product.

Conventionally, food healthiness has been associated with nutritional factors such as fat, fiber, salt and vitamin content. In addition to this conventional or traditional healthiness, food may contain other components that may have a positive impact on our well–being. Products that are claimed to have special beneficial physiological effects in the body have been called nutraceuticals, pharma foods, designer foods, nutritional foods, medical foods or super foods. More usually they are named as functional foods.

The concept of functional foods is often considered to have emerged in Japan in the late 1980s. However, functional foods actually have a quite long history. Belief in the medicine power of foods is not a recent event but has been a widely accepted philosophy for generations. Although Hippocrates may not have started the functional foods movement, he stated “Let food be the medicine and medicine be the food”. The realization that attention to diet as part of a healthy lifestyle can reduce considerably the risk of disease and promote health has created a lucrative market for a whole range of new products called “functional foods”, “nutraceuticals”, etc.

Nutraceuticals are natural, bioactive chemical compounds that are characterized by health promoting, disease–preventing and medicinal properties. The scope of nutraceuticals is substantially different from that of functional foods. Although the prevention and treatment of disease (i.e. medical claims) are related to nutraceuticals, only the reduction of disease is involved with functional foods. In contrast to nutraceuticals, including dietary supplement as well as other type of foods, functional foods are expected to be in the form of ordinary food. Dietary supplement stands for “a food, not in its conventional form, providing a component to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake of that component”. The term “functional food” is surfacing as a generic descriptor of the benefits that accompany ingesting foods that go beyond those accounted for merely by the nutritive provided.

The target of functional foods is seen as clearly different from that of drugs, which are aimed at preventing or curing diseases.

Functional foods have been broadly defined as “foods similar in appearance to conventional foods that are consumed as part of a normal diet and have demonstrated physiological benefits and⁄or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions.”

The prominent types of functional foods:

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Citation: Sawalha S. Functional Food. Austin J Nutri Food Sci. 2014;2(4): 1022. ISSN: 2381-8980.

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