Food Biotechnology: Functional Foods
Functional foods are known to possess an additional characteristic by adding new ingredients or increasing the existing ingredients. This term may apply to those traits which are purposely incorporated into existing edible plants, such as purple or gold potatoes having enriched anthocyanin or carotenoid contents, respectively. They are designed to contain physiological benefits which reduce the danger of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions, and will be similar in appearance to the actual existing plants.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the claims that manufacturers can make about functional foods’ nutrient content and effects on disease, health or body function.
Functional foods are of two types:
Conventional foods include –
Modified functional foods include –
With several potential benefits, there are also disadvantages to buying functional foods. Functional foods have added nutrients that can confuse people on taking their diets. In the case of Calcium – fortified orange juice which is an improvement is considered as functional foods, though being unhealthy.
Another disadvantage is that dieticians worry that consuming a lot of antioxidants such as wine and chocolate might escalate health problems. In case of Gingko biloba which acts as a blood thinner, if taken in excess can cause serious health risks.
In the recent few years, the functional food industry is witnessing a sharp increase in its graph. It has been seen that the world market of functional food industry has reached 176.7 billion in 2013.
In particular this functional food sector will experience 6.9% growth and the supplement sector will rise by 3.8% and the functional beverage sector is going to be the fastest growing segment with 10.8% increase. Such type of growth not only depends on industrial innovation, but also by health claims covering a large range of health issues. Yet, doubts of consumers persist mainly because benefits related to consuming the products is also difficult to estimate.
Recent studies in the research of intestinal microbiota has stepped up the demands for functional foods. Lactic fermentation products are included within the functional foods and classified into 3 groups supported their mechanisms of action: probiotics, prebiotics and bio -genics.
Thus, functional foods are known to increase bioregulatory processes like stresses, appetite and absorption; like immunity and suppresses several allergies. It is known to prevent diseases, such as diarrhea, constipation, cancer, cholesterolemia and diabetes and decelerates aging through immune-stimulation in addition as suppression of mutagenesis, carcinogenesis, oxidation processes.
Functional foods have become an indispensable part of our diet. They are known contain several nutrients and minerals and help supplement the daily intake of an individual, thus making it a holistic balanced diet. They are broadly classified into two types – conventional and modified functional foods. Conventional foods mainly comprise of fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, whereas modified functional foods include fortified juices, fortified milk and other beverages. Even though they are known to have several benefits such as providing immunity, reducing the chances of diseases, increasing the absorption of nutrients, it does confuse people and experts whether to substitute the normal diet with these alternatives. Nevertheless, the recent developments have shown 3 mechanisms of actions namely: probiotics, prebiotics and bio-genics. Thus, it can be seen that functional foods do suffice the nutritional requirements of an individual for an overall development.
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