Reading the Label: An Overview of Functional Foods. Part 3


This is the third part of a review looking at functional products on the market and their ingredients.

«Energetic drinks


Non-alcoholic sugar-containing drinks, carbonated and still, with the addition of additional substances: caffeine, vitamins, fragrant herbs and taurine (amino-ethane-sulfonic acid).


Like any other non-diet soft drink, «energy» drinks give us energy (calories) in the form of sugar. Sometimes they do not use sucrose (table sugar), but glucose. These drinks give us a feeling of pleasant excitement, a burst of energy and increased attention.


They are allowed to write: «Promote concentration of attention» and «Stimulate metabolism.»


Many of these drinks contain 7 to 9 tablespoons of sugar, and certainly provide us with energy. But one piece of fruit or a glass of fruit juice gives us the same amount of energy. The caffeine in these drinks is a known stimulant, but a cup of strong coffee will give you just as much caffeine. There is no evidence that other substances that are part of «energy» drinks, such as ginseng and royal jelly, are of any benefit to our body.

Sugar Free Candies with Vitamin C

At the very least, there is no sucrose (table sugar) in such sweets, and you are less likely to earn tooth decay. The good news is that 50g of these sugar-free toffees can give you more than 200% of your recommended vitamin C intake. The only problem is that the sugar substitute — isomalt — in the amount in which it is present in 50g of such sweets, may have a laxative effect. If you want to consume more vitamin C, then it is better to eat an orange or some other foods: kiwi, berries, peppers, dark green vegetables.

Foods with prebiotics

Prebiotics create a breeding ground for beneficial probiotic bacteria in the colon. One example of a prebiotic is inulin, a carbohydrate found naturally in chicory and bananas. Nowadays, it is added to some varieties of yogurt. Foods containing pre- and probiotics can also be helpful for indigestion or when taking a course of antibiotics, which most often disrupt the bacteriological balance in the large intestine, which can cause a decrease in immunity.

Milk for healthy sleep

Quite an unusual product: this milk does not contain additives, it is milked from cows at certain times of the morning, when it contains more melatonin than usual. This natural hormone is responsible for regulating our internal clock, and the producers of such milk claim that we will immediately want to sleep from it. The opinion of researchers on this issue differs.

Fruit drinks that help with poisoningfunctional egg product

Extracts from herbs such as milk thistle are added to some fruit drinks to help bind and remove harmful substances from the body. There is evidence that standardized extracts of this plant help restore the liver. The effect depends on the amount and frequency of consumption, as well as how well this substance is absorbed in our body in the form in which it is found in such drinks.


This is an extract in which the content of the active or main ingredient is precisely controlled, i.e., it does not change from batch to batch. For example, in the case of milk thistle, you would want a product that contains «80% silymarin». If an herbal supplement is not a «standardized extract,» then it is likely that the content of the beneficial ingredient in it will vary widely from bottle to bottle, box to box. And then who’s to say how much of the active ingredient you’re actually getting?

Eggs naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids

These eggs, which the manufacturers claim protect our heart, are the same as milk with «naturally high melatonin content.» Chickens are fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, so their eggs are also rich in them.

Reading the Label: An Overview of Functional Foods. Part 1

Reading the Label: An Overview of Functional Foods. Part 2

Source: Adapted from How to Read Labels by Amanda Ursell

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