Functional foods and functionality
Functional foods can be considered to be those whole, fortified, enriched or enhanced foods that provide health benefits beyond the provision of essential nutrients (e.g., vitamins and minerals), when they are consumed at efficacious levels as part of a varied diet on a regular basis. Linking the consumption of functional foods or food ingredients with health claims should be based on sound scientific evidence, with the “gold standard” being replicated, randomized, placebo-controlled, intervention trials in human subjects. However, not all foods on the market today that are claimed to be functional foods are supported by enough solid data to merit such claims. This review categorizes a variety of functional foods according to the type of evidence supporting their functionality, the strength of that evidence and the recommended intakes.