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Functional foods are those that, in addition to their usual nutritional effects, have biological compounds (nutrients or non-nutrients), with positive effects on one or more functions of the organism and which have beneficial effects on health, improving or reducing the risk of disease.

Functional foods must meet fundamental requirements for their designation, development and marketing which are regulated by the European Union in Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods.

In supermarkets we can find a great variety of products enriched with functional ingredients such as: milk enriched with calcium or folic acid, eggs with omega-3 acids, cereals with fibers and minerals, iodized salt, among others. Some of these foods with extra nutrients can be of great help at certain stages of life, such as childhood and adolescence. Products with calcium, vitamin C or vitamin D for skeletal development; folic acid for neuronal tube development, antioxidants, omega-3, omega-6 and prebiotics for immune function; or iron, zinc or iodine, in addition to omega 3 and 6 acids, for cognitive and psychomotor development have great contribution in periods of development.

Some of these most used functional ingredients are:

  • Probiotics
    Favor the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria
  • Vitamins: B6, B12, folic acid and vitamins D and K
    Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis
  • Minerals: calcium, magnesium and zinc
    Reduce the risk of osteoporosis and strengthen the immune system
  • Antioxidants: vitamin C and E, carotenes, flavonoids and polyphenols
    Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and the development of tumors
  • Fatty acids: omega 3, conjugated linoleic acid
    Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and the development of tumors. Reduce symptoms of menopause
  • Phytochemicals: phytosterols, isoflavones and lignin
    Reduce Cholesterol Levels and Menopausal Symptoms


by AGROLAB Spain