Reading the Label: An Overview of Functional Foods. Part 1
We provide an overview of the main functional products on the market and their ingredients
On the labels of yogurts, yoghurt fruit drinks, you can see long names of lactic acid bacteria, such that you can’t immediately pronounce: Lactobacillus casei Shirota or Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, Lactobacillus johnsonii and Lactobacillus casei Immunitas.
Such bacteria multiply in the large intestine, where they enter undigested from the gastrointestinal tract. They help to suppress harmful pathogenic bacteria and strengthen the immune system. Research also suggests that these beneficial bacteria may help relieve the symptoms of spastic colitis. The natural balance of bacteria in the large intestine can be disturbed when taking antibiotics, and taking probiotics helps restore its flora, the functioning of the digestive system as a whole, and strengthen the immunity of the human body.
Informational remarks on the labels of such products that have added beneficial bacteria are usually standard: “Helps your body protect itself from the inside” or “When taken daily, beneficial bacteria help maintain the natural bacteriological flora of the digestive tract. Maintaining a healthy digestive system keeps your body in good health.”
BRIEF CONCLUSIONS. IS THESE BACTERIA USEFUL FOR US?
When taken daily, foods that contain these bacteria can help boost our immune system and relieve symptoms of intestinal disorders such as flatulence, which in turn has been linked to spastic colitis.
Essential fatty acids
Essential omega-3 fatty acids are found in large quantities in fish oils such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and pilchard sardines. A little less of them in tuna. Certain types of fatty acids found in dark green vegetables, rapeseed oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil can be converted into essential fatty acids. Now in stores you can find bread, pasty products (butter, “spreads”) and eggs with omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies show that these acids are of critical importance for brain development in children during the last trimester of pregnancy and the first months of a child’s life. The lack of such acids is associated with disorders in children such as dyslexia and hyperactivity, and in adults, a lack of omega-3 fatty acids causes depression. These acids have been shown to help reduce the risk of blood clotting and reduce abscesses, they also help with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease.
“Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help strengthen the heart”, “Play a role in maintaining a healthy heart and in normalizing blood circulation.”
BRIEF CONCLUSIONS. IS OMEGA-3 HELPFUL FOR US?
Over the past 100 years, we have been eating less oily fish, and as a result, our consumption of essential omega-3 fatty acids seems to have really decreased. We eat only 0.1 g per day, and it is recommended to consume twice the daily allowance. Increasing the daily intake of these acids is beneficial for both children and adults whose daily diet does not include oily fish.
Stanoid and steroid esters of vegetable origin
Stanoid and steroid esters of plant origin occur naturally in plants. Currently, these substances are added to some margarines and yogurts.
These substances bind cholesterol in the digestive system, remove it from the body along with the stool and help reduce its level in the blood.
Regarding these ingredients, the following specific informational remarks are allowed: “This pasty product contains a unique component — stanoid ester of plant origin. Including it in a healthy diet may help lower blood cholesterol levels.”
BRIEF CONCLUSIONS. ARE THESE ETHERS USEFUL FOR US?
The use of products containing plant-derived stanoid and steroid esters can help reduce elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (“bad cholesterol”). If your cholesterol levels are normal, then these substances are not worth the extra money you have to pay for them.
Reading the Label: An Overview of Functional Foods. Part 2
Reading the Label: An Overview of Functional Foods. Part 3
Source: Adapted from How to Read Labels by Amanda Ursell
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