Recommended: Use a voucher code MAS5385 to save an extra 5% when shopping for supplements on iHerb.

Functional Foods For A Vitalized LifeFunctional foods…when I first heard of this term I had no idea what it meant; were they foods that had jobs? I simply didn’t know. It took becoming a chef and studying to become a nutritionist before I figured it out!

Functional foods are foods that provide health benefits beyond essential nutrients and energy. They generally have health promoting and disease preventing properties; and many can lay claim to helping protect the body against toxins and preventing cell damage. Most functional foods are looked upon to fight disease and combat against premature aging; and in combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise, functional foods can help you reach an optimal state of health.

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules capable of damaging cells and tissues; and one of the many things that functional foods provide are antioxidants which protect against free radical damage. The fight against these rogue molecules is a never-ending one, as free radicals are continually formed in the body, increased by injury, stress, pollution and illness; and they have been named in a slew of diseases, namely cancer and heart disease, while also reportedly accelerating the aging process. Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants has shown potential in protecting against the development of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other chronic degenerative diseases; and research would suggest that a combination of antioxidants provides greater protection than any single one.

There are many food sources that provide benefits for the body, here is a list of functional foods; and what they can do for you!

  • Yogurt

Yogurts active component is probiotics, which improve digestive health and enhances the immune system.

  • Salmon and other Fish Oils

Long chain omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, are the active nutrients in fish; and they are responsible for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and contribute to improved mental and visual function.

  • Tomatoes and Tomato Products

We look to tomatoes for lycopene, which reduces the risk of prostate cancer in men. The key with tomato products is that heating and processing the tomatoes produces higher levels of this naturally occurring antioxidant; with tomato paste containing up to four times more lycopene than a fresh tomato.

  • Carrots, Fruits and Vegetables

Alpha/beta carotene, anthocyanins, flavones and lignans are found in abundance in fruits and vegetables; and they are in charge of neutralizing free radical and reducing the risk of cancer.

  • Tea

Tea has been the darling of the food world for some time now because of the catechins found within it; catechins reduce the risk of cancer and osteoporosis.

  • Oats, Barley, Wheat Bran and Psyllium

Fiber is so important for the whole body, and these foods provide beta glucan, soluble and insoluble fiber, which reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, lower LDL (bad) and overall cholesterol.

  • Cranberries, Cranberry Products, Cacao and Chocolate

The health of our urinary tract and our heart depends on the tannins (proanthocyanidins) found in these products. If you are going to go the cranberry juice route, be sure that it is fresh squeezed, as most of the store bought varieties contain lots of sugar; and, therefore, render the health benefits negligible.

  • Soybeans and Soy Based Foods

Soy has come under fire as of late, but not all soy is bad; fermented soy products such miso and tempeh provide isoflavones (daidzein, genistein) that help with menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, protect against heart disease and some cancers. They have also been shown to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and overall cholesterol in the blood.

Eating these foods in tandem with healthy lifestyle choices, such as no smoking, regular exercise and minimal stress, proves very beneficial for the body. Who knew that perusing the produce section of your local grocery store was akin to opening your medicine cabinet? With the exception of tea, the vast majority of the functional foods found on the list find themselves on the perimeter of your grocery store, remember that the next time you walk through the doors of your local Safeway!

 

Nature is amazing isn’t she? Providing all the tools for we need to live a vibrant and healthy life!



Recommended: Use a voucher code MAS5385 to save an extra 5% when shopping for supplements on iHerb.

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