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Functional foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. Proponents of functional foods say they promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease. Nutritional properties of probiotics foods on human health and nutrition are increasingly recognized by health professionals. Recent scientific work on the properties and functionality of living micro-organisms in food have suggested that probiotics play an important role in immunological, digestive and respiratory functions, and that they could have a significant effect on the alleviation of infectious diseases in children and other high-risk groups. Probiotics and Prebiotics are as a bioactive component of functional food. Probiotics and prebiotics on human health, especially in the immunomodulation effect, an advantageous effect on the digestive system, antitumor activity and a possible therapeutic and prophylactic effect on cardiovascular diseases and obesity.
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Scope and Importance:
Trends in population demographics and socio-economic changes also 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 quality of life, 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, or delay the onset of, 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. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates claims that manufacturers make about functional foods' nutrient content and effects on disease, health or body function. The FDA regulates these types of foods according to whether a food is considered to be a conventional food, a food additive, a dietary supplement, a medical food or a food for special dietary use.
The world market for functional food and drinks is expected to reach $130 billion by 2015, according to Global Industry Analysts. Market growth is fuelled by product innovation and increasingly health-conscious consumers with higher disposable incomes.
Functional foods are popular for their health benefits and nutrient content. These foods generally contain some ingredient(s) boasting health-optimizing properties, such as orange juice fortified with calcium for stronger bones, butter/margarine containing omega-3 oils to reduce cholesterol, and fermented foods containing live cultures for probiotic benefits. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) checks the validity of claims made by companies regarding the health benefits of functional foods.
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Relevant Society and Associations
American Dietetic Association
British Dietetic Association
Canadian Health Food Association
International Food Information Council Foundation
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This page was last updated on October 19, 2021