These days, it is not hard to find food advertisements that claim to do everything from supporting weight loss to reducing the risk of chronic disease. There are, however, a very particular group of foods promoted as “superfoods.” The term “superfood” is a marketing term used to describe functional foods. Functional foods are foods that have high levels of nutrients and offer benefits beyond their basic nutrient content.
Let’s consider two examples, tomatoes and berries. Tomatoes contain vitamin A and vitamin C, which helps keep hair, bones and skin healthy. They also contain lycopene, which may lower the risk of prostate cancer. Lycopene is considered the functional component or the component that gives additional health benefits. Berries such as blackberries and blueberries are another example. These berries contain vitamin A, vitamin C and folate. They also contain anthocyanin, which gives them color and offer additional health promoting benefits. This makes the case that functional foods not only have the potential to improve health but may also reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases.
It is important to keep in mind that following a healthy eating pattern is one of the most important factors in maintaining good overall health and there is no one category of food that will provide you with everything needed to stay healthy. If you want to add more functional foods to your diet, try the blueberry banana smoothie below.
Blueberry Banana Smoothie
- 1 fresh or frozen banana, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
- 6 ounces nonfat plain yogurt
- 3/4 cup skim milk or unsweetened soymilk, ricemilk or almondmilk
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar, or sweetener to taste