By Lígia Molina

In the last years, the term functional food has conquered the world. We know that a healthy and balanced diet can contribute to disease prevention. But how did this trend come about? World-wide research, for example, considers feeding the second factor of influence in the prevention of cancer. When favorable, a balanced diet is able to reduce the number of cases of the disease by 30% to 40%.

Defined as any substance or component capable of promoting health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of diseases, functional foods have, in addition to the nourishing function, the ability to reduce the risk of disease through the production of metabolic effects and physiological in the body. This concept was launched in Japan in the 1980s and is rapidly adopted around the world.

According to the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) guidelines, it is possible to classify fruits, vegetables, grains, fortified foods and some food supplements as functional foods with the function of regulating body functions and protecting the body, to prevent or even treat diseases.

Even in the face of the currently available variety of enriched industrialized products, including in this case isolated nutrients, biotechnology products, dietary supplements, and genetically modified foods to processed foods and plant products, functional foods should preferably be consumed in their original form, so that they can demonstrate their real benefit, within a normal eating pattern.

Ideally, people always choose to eat more fruits, vegetables, fiber, and healthy fats. Always remembering that foods eaten during the day have effects on the body, making the difference between the development of a chronic disease and a healthy life.