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What is a Functional Food?

Functional foods are one of the biggest trends right now, but chances are you’re already incorporating these foods into your daily diet for flavor and health – especially if you regularly opt for the dietitian-recommended Healthy Dining choices at restaurants. As a partner of the Together Counts™ program for healthy, active living, we want to explain to you the benefits of including functional foods into your regular diet.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, functional foods are “whole foods along with fortified, enriched or enhanced foods that have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed as part of a varied diet on a regular basis at effective levels based on significant standards of evidence.” Essentially, a functional food is one that has been linked by solid scientific evidence to certain health benefits. Some examples of functional foods include:

  • Salmon
  • Flaxseeds
  • Cocoa
  • Berries
  • Beans
  • Garlic
  • Leafy greens

This list of functional foods could go on and on, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, dairy and even spices! Just take a look at this list that includes the potential health benefits of a wide variety of foods.

As people’s focus shifts away from sick care and towards prevention and the role of food, functional foods become even more appealing for their benefits. Many of these ingredients have been linked to a healthy weight, reduced stress, improved blood sugar and a healthier gut.

Functional foods may not be an overnight cure-all, but they are an essential ingredient in a healthy lifestyle both for health benefits and the rich variety of flavors they offer. How do you include functional foods in your diet to support your health?

Healthy Dining Finder was born out of a passion to find menu choices with vibrant fruits and vegetables, hearty whole grains and flavorful lean proteins at every restaurant. Healthy Dining Finder believes that now is the time for every American to rediscover how to truly treat themselves well with all the best food, finding the health and vitality that comes from enjoying tantalizing culinary creations found at Healthy Dining restaurants nationwide.

For more healthy meal ideas check out these other reads from Together Counts!

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