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Functional Foods
The link between food and health continues to grow and now people are looking into the benefits certain foods provide beyond the basic nutritional value. Foods have some specific components naturally occurring that reduce the risk of diseases.

Unmodified whole vegetables and fruits are the simplest examples of functional foods as they have antioxidants, flavanoids, fibre etc that help fight a lot of diseases and are very beneficial for humans.

For long time Ayurveda and home remedies have been promoting functional foods like curd which is a Probiotic, or turmeric (Haldi), Tulsi, their medicinal benefits have been utilized in India centuries before the western world understood their need. But unfortunately in this age many of us are not using these natural remedies or don’t even know about it.

Here are a few functional foods that would help you become healthier regular use of these commonly found foods can help prevent or control a host of diseases like diabetes, heart diseases and even cancer.
 

Class/ Components

Sources

Suggested Action

Potential benefits

β - carotene
Carotene
Coloured fruits and vegetables, Carrots, Pumpkin, sweet potato, Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Reduces oxidative stress by scavenging the free radicals
  • Neutralizes free radicals
  • Boosts cell antioxidant defenses
  •  Precursor of Vitamin A
Lycopene
Carotene
Tomato and its products, watermelon
  • Reduces oxidative stress by scavenging the free radicals
  • Antioxidant activity
  • Helps prevent cancer
Insoluble  fibre
Carotene
Wheat and corn bran, fruit and vegetable skins
  • Increases gastric transit time
  • Healthy GI tract
  •  Satisfies hunger helps lose weight
Soluble fibre
Carotene
Psyllium seed husk, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, oats, whole grains, legumes
  • Increased bile binding
  • Higher viscosity of food mass
  • Slow glucose uptake
  • Production of short chain Fatty Acids ;stopping cholesterol synthesis
  • Helps control blood sugars; thus prevent/ manage diabetes
  •  Keeps cholesterol levels in check
  •  Reduces risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease.
β- Glucan
Carotene
Oat bran, oat meal, barley
  • Increased bile binding
  • Higher viscosity of food mass
  • Slow glucose uptake
  • Production of short chain Fatty Acids ;stopping cholesterol synthesis
  • Helps control blood sugars; thus prevent/ manage diabetes
  • Reduces risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease.
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)
Carotene
Tree nuts like almonds, walnuts, etc, olive oil, canola oil
  • Increases HDL-C (good cholesterol)
  • Decreases LDL-C and cholesterol
  • Prevents oxidation in cell due to presence excess PUFA
  • Better glycemic control
  •  Reduced insulin requirement
  •  Reduces Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) risk
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
Carotene
Walnuts, flaxseed, sunflower oil, safflower oil
  • Increases HDL-C (Good cholesterol)
  • Decreases LDL-C (Bad cholesterol)
  • Helps keep cholesterol in check
  • Promotes heart health
  •  Maintenance of mental and physical function
Omega 3 Fatty acids
Carotene
Fish and fish oils, Flaxseed, nuts,  Hemp oil, certain GLV
  • Precursor of anti-inflammatory
  • Increased hepatic uptake & oxidation of Free Fatty Acids
  • Decreases Triglycerides
  • Reduces risk of heart diseases
  •  Reduces cholesterol
  •  Helps regulate blood sugar
Plant stanols/ sterols
Carotene
Corn, Soy, Wheat, Wood oils, Fortified foods
  • Interfere with dietary & bilary cholesterol absorption by decreasing solubility
  • Reduces risk of heart diseases
  •  Reduces cholesterol
Prebiotic: Inulin, Fructo-oligosaccerides
Carotene
Whole grains, Onion, fruits, garlic, honey
  • Promotes intestinal fauna
  • Modification of glucose & insulin concentrations
  • Production of short chain Fatty Acid inhibiting Fatty Acid synthesis
  • Improves Gastro - intestinal health
  • Improves calcium absorption
  • Helps control blood sugars; thus prevent/ manage diabetes
  • Controls cholesterol, so helps prevent heart diseases
Probiotic: Yeast, Lactobacilli, bifidobacterium
Carotene
Curds and other cultured dairy
  • Promotes intestinal fauna
  • Improves Gastro - intestinal health
  • Helps control diahorrea
  • improves systemic health
Diallyl sulfide, Ally methyl trisulfide
Carotene
Garlic, Onions, scallions
  • Inhibits synthesis of cholesterol in the HMG CoA pathway
  • Helps control cholesterol
  • Contributes to heart health
  • Enhances detoxification of undesirable compounds
  • Maintenance of immune function
Dithiolthiones
Carotene
Cruciferous vegetables
  • Conjugation with glucuronic acid, glutathione, & associated enzymes
  • Enhances detoxification of undesirable compounds
  • Maintenance of immune function
Vitamin C
Carotene
Citrus fruits, guava, lemons
  • Reduces oxidative stress
  • Helps in iron absorption
  • Neutralizes free radicals
  • Helps prevent cancer and heart disease
  • Maintenance of bone health and immune function
  • Helps prevent anemia
Isoflavones
Carotene
Soybeans and its products
  • Weak estrogenic activity by binding to estrogen receptors
  • Due to the weak estrogenic effect they produce all changes that the hormone produces
  • Healthy brain and immune function
  • Contributes to maintenance of menopausal health
  • Reduces risk of Heart disease
Soyprotein
Carotene
Soybeans and its products
  • Increased faecal excretion
  • Altering bile acid synthesis
  • Reduces risk of Heart disease
  • Reduces blood cholesterol and glucose
Anthocynins
Carotene
Berries, Cherries, Red grapes
  • Neutralizes free radicals
  • Prevents oxidation of proteins like DNA, lipids
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Cellular antioxidant activity
  • Maintenance of brain, cardiovascular function
  • Helps prevent cancer
Flavanols
Carotene
Tea, Cocoa, Apples
  • Neutralizes free radicals
  • Prevents oxidation of proteins like DNA, lipids
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant activity
  • Maintenance of heart health
Flavanones
Carotene
Citrus fruits
  • Neutralizes free radicals
  • Prevents oxidation of proteins like DNA, lipids
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Neutralize free radicals
  • Boost cellular antioxidant defenses
Flavonols
Carotene
Onions, Apples, Tea, Broccoli
  • Neutralizes free radicals
  • Prevents oxidation of proteins like DNA, lipids
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Neutralize free radicals
  • Boost cellular antioxidant defenses
 
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