Functional Foods: Nature’s Medicines

Functional Foods: Nature’s Medicines

What are functional foods, how can they support better health and why are they becoming more popular than traditional supplements? Your questions about functional foods answered here.

What is a functional food?

Functional foods are food products or ingredients that offer health benefits that go beyond just their basic nutritional value. Functional foods don’t just provide us with the fuel we need to survive; instead, they actively promote well-being and can even help to prevent and manage certain diseases.

The concept of functional foods originated in Japan in the 1980s, when government agencies started approving foods with proven health benefits with the aim of improving the general population’s health.

Functional foods include:

  • foods that naturally contain health-boosting nutrients – such as oily fish (which is rich in omega-3), or many fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (which are naturally rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and bioactive compounds which can improve our health)

  • foods that have been prepared in a specific way to boost our health – such as fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi which are rich in probiotics

  • foods that have been fortified with added nutrition – such as bread with added folic acid, probiotic yoghurts and high-fibre snacks

How can functional foods support better health?

Functional foods are often rich in essential nutrients, antioxidants, prebiotics and probiotics, and bioactive compounds that help to repair our body and keep it running smoothly. 

As a result, eating more functional foods in our diet can can offer a host of benefits, including:

Reducing the risk of disease

Some functional foods can repair our metabolism, which helps to protect us against chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Boosting gut health

Many functional foods are rich in prebiotics, probiotics or dietary fibre, which help to promote a healthy gut microbiome – which is crucial for supporting our overall well-being.

Soothing internal inflammation

Certain functional foods have anti-inflammatory properties and help to soothe chronic internal inflammation.

Supporting our immune system

Functional foods are often rich in key vitamins and minerals, helping to bolster our immune system and protect us from bacterial and viral infections.

This means that like traditional supplements, functional foods can be valuable when our diet doesn’t provide all (or enough of) the key components that our bodies need to grow, repair and maintain a healthy internal balance. 

Functional foods vs. Supplements

The traditional approach to addressing nutrient deficiencies in our diets would be to take a supplement – but functional foods are rapidly becoming a more popular alternative to supplements for a few very important reasons.

It turns out that functional foods actually offer a much wider range of nutritional benefits than supplements, at safe doses that occur in nature, and in natural forms that our bodies find easier to absorb and use. Plus, since functional foods can be eaten as a meal, they offer better nutrition and value for money than taking supplement tablets.

What’s more, the supplements market is poorly regulated: pills may not contain what they say they do, may be contaminated with pollutants like heavy metals, or may deliver so much of a vitamin or mineral that it becomes toxic and actually does you harm. In contrast, functional foods are regulated by strict food standards rules, ensuring that you’re kept safe from harm.

Plants vs Pills: Why Functional Foods are Beating Supplements

Learn more about the difference between functional foods and supplements, the risks and benefits of each, and which might be the best choice for you. 

-> Read more

Our favourite functional foods

Thinking about how functional foods could support your health? There are a wide range of functional foods you could add into your diet, from spices (like turmeric or cinnamon) to fruits and vegetables (like blueberries or carrots). You can check out our list of our top 10 plants for boosting your health… but (spoiler alert) broccoli is our favourite. Here’s why.

Why broccoli is top of the crops

Broccoli really is an under-appreciated vegetable. It’s a powerful source of bioactive botanicals like sulforaphane and polyphenols, which have a powerful positive effect on our health.

Plus it’s a natural multivitamin, containing vitamins C & B6, folic acid, potassium, phosphorous, iron, selenium and manganese – and it’s low fat, low sugar, high in protein and rich in dietary fibre!

Unfortunately though, we rarely get the best out of our broccoli. The strains of broccoli grown on farms contain very few bioactive botanicals, and we tend to destroy whatever’s left when we cook it – preventing us from unlocking broccoli’s functional-food powers.

Meet our super-broccoli

(also known as GRextra)

That’s why we’ve spent decades researching and developing our new ultra-healthy strain of super-broccoli (or as the scientists call it, ‘GRextra’).

It looks and tastes like a traditional supermarket broccoli, but it’s bio-fortified. That means it contains up to 5x more key health-boosting active ingredients that help to soothe chronic inflammation, support a healthier metabolism and promote internal balance. 

Plus, there’s no need to cook our products, so all those bioactive botanicals are protected until you eat them.

Of course, as a functional food it’s also packed with the  healthy doses of vitamins, minerals, protein and dietary fibre that you’d expect, so it can bring a wide range of benefits – like giving your gut health a huge boost!

It’s is a uniquely powerful functional food that offers an all-natural way to grow healthier as we age. Plus, it’s patented for blood sugar support.  (Patent #11147825)

Could it help you on your journey towards  a healthier future?

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