Monday, June 7, 2010

(Dys)"Functional" Foods....

Functional or Medicinal Food:  Any healthy, or in some cases unhealthy, food claiming health promoting or disease preventing properties.  These foods include processed food products and foods fortified with heath-promoting additives.

Take a walk down any grocery store aisle and it's easy to see just how large the functional food movement has become.  The aisles are over-run with products fortified with probiotics, omega-3s, sterols, stanols, vitamins, energy, and the list goes on.  There's soda, juice and water with added vitamins and minerals, bread and cereal with omega-3 fatty acids, margarine and peanut butter with plant sterols and stanols, pomegranate and acia infused juices, snacks, etc...   The functional food industry, according to market researcher Packaged Facts, is a $160 billion business and sales are growing at 7% annually. 

A recent feature in Forbes Magazine looks at the growing functional food trend, the science behind the claims, and if the benefits really exist.  Surprise!  These 'magic' foods aren't all they say they are! But guess what?  They sell.  And my guess is they will continue to do so.  Next time you get into a discussion with someone that thinks their daily vitamin enhanced water, omega-3 fortified cereal, probiotic yogurt combo covers all the bases, tell them what you know to be true...  Eat grass-fed meats, vegetables, heart healthy fats, some fruit and take fish oil - it's simple, it works and there's no need for fortification.

REAL Food = REAL Health Benefits everything else is questionable at best.



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