New Nutritional Trends: Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals

It is obvious that the market for functional additives is growing. Several publications emphasize the significant business numbers that are starting to change and the continued and steady expansion anticipated for the upcoming years. We will discuss functional and nutraceutical foods today.

The notion of functional foods and nutraceuticals, which have particular health-preserving characteristics in addition to their basic nutritional functions, is becoming more and more popular as a result of new dietary trends and the need to fulfill escalating social and health demands.

The lack of a unified, global definition and legal regulation of functional foods and nutraceuticals is one of the major obstacles facing this revolution, together with the stringent control of various "claims" (declarations, considerations, or assertions) of nutritional benefits, health benefits, and illness prevention.

It is crucial to clarify the meaning of these concepts since this conceptual void has led to significant consumer term confusion, which has been abused in certain marketing and advertising efforts.

What is functional foods?

It is described by the International Food Information Council as "any food similar in physical appearance to conventional food, consumed as part of the daily diet, but capable of producing demonstrated metabolic or physiological effects, useful in maintaining good physical and mental health, in reducing the risk of chronic degenerative diseases, in addition to their basic nutritional functions" among the many other definitions that are currently in use. Therefore, we can classify as functional foods those natural or processed foods that, in addition to offering nutrients, have been scientifically shown to positively affect one or more bodily functions, in such a way that they provide a better state of health and well-being, by acting as a preventative, lowering the risk factors that lead to the development of diseases.

A nutraceutical is what?

According to Biobest Wellness, a concentrated bioactive natural substance, typically present in food, that is presented as a dietary supplement or complement in a non-food matrix (pills, capsules, powder, etc.) and that, when taken in a higher dose than that found in those foods, has a greater positive impact on health than the food itself could. Nutraceuticals are, in other words, food or food-related aspects that have been shown to provide additional health benefits and can advance medical care for the prevention and treatment of illnesses.

Thus, a nutraceutical varies from a drug in that the latter is typically a synthetic product and does not, for the most part, have a biological basis. Also, it varies from herbal extracts and infusions in that its constituent parts are concentrated and the latter may not always have a medicinal effect.