Have you ever been out at a party or stop by your local happy hour with friends after work one Friday? Everyone is laughing and having a good time, when you hear in the distance, “pour me a glass of red wine, it’s good for the heart!” You may end up walking away a bit curious about that statement. Do you ever wonder why this is the case? Or whether or not this is true or an old wives’ tale? I mean is it possible that something that so many people enjoy indulging in can be that good for you? Red wine belongs to a special category that is known as food with functions, and many of you are probably already incorporating these foods into your diet. These types of foods have some explosive health benefits that may have you reconsidering your current diet otherwise.
According to the Mayo Clinic, foods with function is defined as foods that have a potentially positive effect on the health outside of the basic nutrients that the food provides. The term foods with function was first used in Japan in the 1980’s, as their government approved a process called Foods for a Specific Health Use. These types of foods promotes optimal health while reducing the risk for diseases. (I should note that they do not make up for poor eating habits) The FDA is the governing body in the U.S.A. that oversees the claims manufacturers can make about food nutritional content and effects on disease, health or body function.
It is easy to incorporate foods with function into your diet, if you aren’t already eating them already. These foods all commonly contain whole, fortified, enriched or enhanced on the majority of labels for these products. Some examples of foods with functions are;
Omega 3 fatty acids – can lower triglycerides, cholesterol, and lower risk for coronary heart disease.
Oats – contain b-glucan and saponins, which reduce total LDL cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.
Tomato/tomato products – contains lycopene, and has been associated with reducing prostate cancer, can reduce risk of certain types of cancer and lower risk for heart disease.
Probiotics – contains lactobacillus, which supports GI health and boosts your immune system.