Thursday, May 17, 2012

Functional Food

All of us eat functional functional foods every day, the main function of the consumed  food is to fill up our stomach and not feeling hungry. I agree most part of it. However,the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (USA) describes functional food as whole, fortified, enriched, or enhanced foods that have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed as part of a varied diet at effective levels on a regular basis.

So, by the description, I guess some food is beneficial to us when we eat it regularly. It is a long article and let me summarize it into a few major categories and the benefits of each. Mind you, we will be talking about the benefit to prevent CVD, not Chemical Vapour Deposition (as in semiconductor industry) but cardiovascular disease.

1. Fruits and Vegetables
It is known that or widely spread that routine consumption of fruits and vegetables which are abundant in phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fiber protects against CVD. I'll skip all the chemical compound that could lead you and me go crazy, bottom line is you should eat onions, tomatoes, berries, apples and cabbage which are rich in phytochemicals.

There are a few food which are abundant in antioxidants but rarely found OR very expensive in Malaysia, including blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, cherries, eggplant, and purple cabbage, have been shown to enhance endothelial function and suppress infl ammation that may lead to CVD. I guess the most affordable ones are the eggplant and purple cabbage. Does it mean that purple colour food are good? Yes, but not only purples, eat all colourful fruits and veges, you can boost your defense system against the CVD.

2. Legumes
That's including all beans, peas, lentils, etc. They provide low fat plant-based proteins, fibers and other healthy nutrients. By choosing plant protein, you get much more bang for your buck, in our case, is RINGGIT. You’re getting amino acids, fiber, minerals, iron, and antioxidants, and you’re getting a food with bonus nutrients that boost your body’s antioxidant levels, lower cholesterol, and provide folate, which is known to lower homocysteine—high levels of which are a risk factor for CVD—all this for just pennies on the dollar. With animal protein, you’re getting the excess baggage of saturated fat and cholesterol and more calories.

Besides, it is more economical or easy to prepare food from beans, you save some time, you save the ringgit. Why not?

3. Fish
Fish are high in protein, low in saturated fat, and loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Wild salmon is the recommended food, but if everyone going after the wild salmon. How many would be left in this world?

To be serious, consuming fish rich in omega-3s may decrease the risk of cardiacarrhythmias, which can lead to sudden death (Remember the Muamba case when Bolton vs Tottenham), decrease triglyceride levels, slow the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and modestly reduce blood pressure.

4. Whole Grains
For a good source of dietary fi ber, along with nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, vitamin E, polyphenols, magnesium, and selenium, six to eight servings of whole grains per day is recommended. Oats in particular provide significant cardiovascular benefi ts due to their high content of the soluble fiber beta glucan, which is believed to reduce LDL cholesterol.

Therefore, any time you have white rice, try brown rice instead; or instead of white pasta, have whole grain pasta whenever possible. So you’re not making a major change. You’re simply switching out a less healthful item for a heart-healthy whole grain option.

5. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are rich in heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, phytosterols, protein, and fi ber and are thus key players in CVD prevention. So, eat more walnut, hazelnuts, etc.... make it an afternoon snack to replace those unhealthy tidbits.

It is time to go nuts.

6. Heart Healthy Beverages
Drink more green tea, control the coffee intake 2 to 4 cups per day and one glass of red wine per day if you are not restricted/prohibited from drinking it. Although some studies show that there are some benefits drinking the beverages stated above, the effect is not more evident than the food intakes.

Wow.... seems like everything is covered here except meat, so you know what it means, right? Maybe we need to make some positive changes to actually change our health condition or live longer.

We should be pushing these lifestyle changes because we know they work. Heart attack and stroke is the leading cause of death worldwide, but largely a preventable condition.

Partially summarized from Reducing the Risk of CVD, by Megan Tempest. Today Dietian 2012-04

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