Functional foods go far beyond providing us with calories. They provide protection and targeted nutrition for our vital organs and bodily systems. Let's look a few examples:
Raw Olive Oil
Raw olive oil exerts a variety of positive effects on the body. A recent review of nearly 30 trials showed that olive oil, dosed properly, reliably lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and increases HDL (good cholesterol). It also has general anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Improving cholesterol levels lowers the chance for heart disease and greatly improves overall health.
Mushrooms are well known for their protein and mineral content, but they also contain amazing compounds called beta-glucans. Beta-glucans enhance immune function and can defend against tumours and certain viruses. They also have a protective effect on the liver; an immeasurably important and under appreciated organ.
Humans have fermented foods and beverages since the Neolithic age. In modern times, the popularity of kimchi has reached peak heights due to its unique taste and health benefits. Kimchi contains strains of bacteria that are healthy for our gut flora including the infamous Lactobacillis strains. A healthy gut flora can positively effect our health in many ways including healthy weight promotion and anti-ageing properties.
Ground Flax Seed
Ground flax seed is an excellent source of fibre, but more importantly for some, it contains a solid amount of phytoestrogens which can help support estrogen levels in our own body! It is a common natural recommendation to patients experiencing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Keep ground flax seed in your fridge for maximum nutritional value and add it to your morning yoghurt or oatmeal (another functional food!).
Are functional foods worth the hype? I would give this question a resounding YES and encourage an all-around diet high in functional foods. There are many examples of functional foods beyond those mentioned in this post. If you are nutritionally minded and would like to find out more, book your initial consultation with me today.
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-Dr. Riley, ND