Functional Foods Offer More Than Just Nutrition

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

You’re well aware that the foods that we eat and the nutrition that they provide have a large impact on how our bodies function throughout our lifetime. Certain foods can really benefit our bodies, while others can do some damage. But did you know that some foods offer benefits that go beyond just nutrition? These foods are called “functional” foods, and they offer lots of health benefits on top of their nutrition and great taste.

Registered dietician Leanne McCrate defines functional foods as foods that might have a positive effect on health beyond just typical nutrition. She notes that many functional foods have nutrients such as choline, omega-3s, alpha-linolic acids, flavonoids, lutein, folate, beta-carotene, and antioxidants. These nutrients are those that typically promote either brain health, or heart health, and they also lessen inflammation. Some of the best and the most common function foods that provide these nutrients include:

  • Nuts
  • Dark chocolate
  • Egg yolks
  • Chicken
  • Veal
  • Mushrooms (Shitake, golden oyster, and white button specifically)
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Turnip greens (In fact, a lot of your dark leafy greens)

This is just a small list, many other foods are also considered functional foods. Many of these are produced right here in Arizona! Nuts, beef, pork, chicken, veal, eggs, and all the vegetables on the list are all ones that can be found locally! Consider including some in your next few meals and enjoy not only their great taste and great nutrition but also some of the other health benefits that they offer!

For more health and nutrition articles or suggestions on where to find Arizona-grown products, check out the Fill Your Plate website!

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