I haven’t talked much about my classes this semester, which is a bit unusual since I’ve written several posts in the past in regards to my classes and assignments. Currently, I’m taking Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. So what exactly is a functional food? Well, there are several definitions, but the most widely accepted and comprehensive one is this:
A functional food is similar in appearance to conventional foods, is consumed as a part of a normal diet and has demonstrated physiological benefits and/or reduces the risk of chronic diseases beyond basic nutritional function. – Health Canada
This is a great website, which contains an easy-to-read table listing all the different functional components in various foods and their health benefits, such as protection against cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegeneration, etc.
So in this course, I’ve been learning about the sources and mechanisms of action of dietary bioactive compounds in these functional foods, nutraceuticals, and dietary supplements as well as the efficacy, safety, and regulatory issues in regards to their commercialization.
If you’ve noticed, functional foods (whole foods as well as modified foods – fortified, enriched, or enhanced) are really hot right now in the food industry. The demand for these foods are high as consumers are becoming more concerned with maintaining good health and reducing risk of disease. I’m sure you’ve all heard the slogan, “antioxidants will protect me” (the power of advertising..). Upon hearing the word, antioxidant, we immediately associate it as being good for us. Several antioxidant-rich “superfruits” have emerged and continue to be discovered. These include pomegranate, aςai berry, mangosteen, noni, goji berry, and avocado. For this post, the spotlight is on AVOCADO. Yes, it contains many essential nutrients such as vitamin K, fiber, folate, vitamin E, etc., but it also contains high amounts of phytosterols (which help keep inflammation under control and lower cholesterol) and lutein (while there’s no clear evidence yet, it has been linked to combating age-related eye disease and preventing prostate cancer).
Here are some new-to-me facts.
So why don’t more Americans consume these functional foods on a daily basis? Some of the top barriers that have been detected include price, taste, availability/convenience, and uncertainty of how to prepare them. I personally believe avocados overcome all those barriers! At my grocery store, they are 3 for a $1 this week. Jackpot!! I made sure to stock up ;).
Avocados are extremely versatile, can easily be added to all kinds of dishes, and most importantly, taste amazing! So the bottom line? Let’s eat more avocados!
If you’re looking for some ideas, here are some of my past recipes to get you started ;).
With the leftover sauce…
Chicken with Tomatillo and Avocado Sauce
Slow-Cooked Beef, Hatch Chile, Avocado Panini
Slow Cooker Spicy Tex-Mex Fajitas
Red Quinoa Pancake
Wheatberry Hummus Spread
Mexican Chicken and Quinoa Casserole (you can top with avocados)
Do you eat functional foods regularly? If so, which ones?
I always try to eat as many fresh fruits and veggies as I can that are in season – right now lots of oranges. In terms of prepackaged foods, I love me some Quaker Oatmeal Squares. They make for an excellent snack ;). I always purchase calcium-fortified dairy products (being an Asian, I worry about my fragile bones). And of course, kimchi…
What are your favorite ways to enjoy avocado?
I have tons. But I must say, guacamole is my ultimate weakness…esp when sriracha is involved 😉