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What are functional foods? And why are we so passionate about them?
The FDA does not formally define “functional foods”. However, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics explain functional foods as “whole foods along with fortified, enriched or enhanced foods that have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed as part of a varied diet on a regular basis at effective levels based on significant standards of evidence.”
Meanwhile, Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. of the Mayo Clinic more simply defines functional foods as “foods that have a potentially positive effect on health -- beyond basic nutrition.”
It turns out that the term Functional Foods is fairly broad, encompassing both foods that merely have a positive effect on health, as well as “fortified foods” which include additional ingredients to improve health, such as vitamins, minerals, probiotics or nutraceuticals.