With scientific and technological advancements in both nutrition and food science and an increasing demand for personalised nutrition, consumers can select from an array of functional foods and make them part of everyday life. Within the EU, the, there is no regulatory definition of “functional food,” but according to The British Nutrition Foundation, “the term ‘functional’ is sometimes used to describe foods and drinks that are enriched with particular nutrients or substances that have the potential to positively influence health over and above their basic nutritional value.”
All foods have some function, but there’s a difference with those deemed to be “functional foods.” According to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic position paper: “All food is essentially functional at some level as it provides energy and nutrients needed to sustain life. However, there is growing evidence that some food components, not considered nutrients in the traditional sense, may provide positive health benefits.”
Why Meal Replacements Qualify as Functional Foods
Meal replacements come in various forms, like Herbalife Nutrition Formula 1 Shake or Formula 1 Express Meal Bars, and they have some common characteristics, beyond taste, aroma or nutritive value, that make them functional foods:
- These products support weight loss and weight maintenance, through portion control and by providing the nutrients our body would need per meal.
- They are rich in protein, which supports the maintence and growth of muscle mass.
- All European meal replacement products are fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Meal replacements are a category of functional food that provide a variety of healthy benefits. Traditionally used for weight management, evidence has accrued in recent years suggesting they provide a host of other benefits, including maintenance of lean body mass, lower glycemic index and by serving as a source of daily nutrition to help fill nutrient gaps in the diet.
Here are some more resources for information about functional foods:
- Functional Foods position paper – American Council on Science and Health
- Functional Foods in Health and Disease
Author: Andrew Shao, Ph.D., vice president, Global Government Affairs, Herbalife Nutrition