First of all, let's explore what functional food actually is. Functional foods are defined as foods that are thought to have other health benefits in the body outside of a nutritional value. Every day, more and more researchers is uncovering the powers of specific foods and the role they play in our diet to both prevent and fight diseases. Let's explore a few of these.
1. Grapes: These purple gems are extremely high in antioxidants and help with eye health. Grapes (and red wine for that matter) contain apowerful antioxidant called resveratrol that ability to inhibit cyclooxygenase-2 (CoX-2) production, which is related to cancer development.
2. Dark leafy greens (instead of lighter ones): These actually work to detoxify the body. Think spinach, argular, swiss chard and kale which are rich in vitamin A and C as well as magnesium and potassium. It's also believed these help relieve diabetic symptoms.
3. Whole Grains: Think brown rice, quinoa and whole oats, are known to have significant health benefits. According to WebMD, they are full of nutrients including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and various minerals. A whole grain diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce symptoms of type 2 diabetes, obesity, some cancers, and may improve bowel health by helping to maintain regular bowel movements and promote growth of healthy bacteria in the colon. However, only 10% of Americans eat the daily recommendation of at least three servings a day.
4. Beets and beetroots, according to recent studies, are believed to lower blood pressure, reduce dementia, improve exercise and strengthen athletic performance.
5. Omega-3 Fortified Eggs: Yes, not all eggs are created equal. These types of eggs are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids to help fight inflammation, which is especially helpful when fighting off migraines.
6. Greek Yogurt: A great source of calcium and protein, greek yogurt also helps stave off cravings keeping you fuller longer. Protein is our best friend indeed for avoiding eating too much. Protein burns fat, builds muscle, keeps your fuller longer and continues to be one of the most satisfying food groups you can eat. Oh and did we mention there are some seriously delicious options? And now, new research shows losing weight highly depends on your protein intake and not just from the typical chicken but more veggies.
7. Red bell peppers: Want to fight arthritis? Eat these red ringing bells. These peppers provide a ton of vitamin C and also helps to keep collagen healthy which is a big part of cartilage health.
8. Eat cucumbers, Reduce wrinkles: Cucumbers are always a great addition to any salad – and great for your skin, at that. The peels contain silica which helps boost collagen and reduce wrinkles.
9. Wild Salmon: Insist on wild salmon, say no to farmed salmon which contains God knows what. The wild version, straight from the sea, is chocked full of omega-3s, amino acids, vitamins A, B, D, and E, creating the ability to fight everything from diabetes and heart disease to improving brain performance and reducing cholesterol.
10. Coconut oil also helps regulate our blood sugar levels. But what everyone wants to know is how does it affect weight loss? Fats from coconut have special fats which are referred to as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which has been shown to help the liver burn fat efficiently, once they're broken down. A study from 2009 found that women who consumed about 2 tablespoons a day for 4 months not only didn't gain weight, they actually lowered their abdominal fats, fat around the belly that is extremely difficult to lose.