Functional foods are a category all their own—they have health benefits that go beyond just basic nutrition. In Canada, “a functional food is similar in appearance to, or may be, a conventional food that is consumed as part of a usual diet, and is demonstrated to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions, i.e. they contain bioactive compound.” These easy-to-add foods include some herbs and spices, brightly coloured veggies, and some berries, all of which can be added to a meal in a cinch. Some drinkable yogurts are also considered functional foods, because they provide us with added ingredients like plant sterols.
We are quickly changing the way we eat as a result of learning more about how things like functional foods can affect our lives; we’re becoming more aware of not only where food comes from, but also how certain foods play a role in the big picture of our health. The more knowledge we have about the food that we’re eating, the more we can make informed decisions about how to get into the routine of having a well-rounded diet that includes functional foods like food that has plant sterols—one which promotes overall improved health, including for the heart.