Best Foods A2 Coursework

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Functional Food Study Guide

How would you define a functional food? Give examples of functional foods and describe their benefits.

A functional food, otherwise referred to as a nutraceutical, is defined fairly clearly on the Mayo Clinic website. A functional food is one that has "a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition." The advocates of functional foods say that they promote an optimal level of health and can help reduce the risk of disease. Even with the claims that are sometimes made, the Food and Drug Administration is the basic referee of what claims can be made and which ones cannot. Benefits that are commonly touted for functional foods include bone health, heart health, immune health, disease prevention and so forth.

Describe the health benefits from the following components of functional foods.

Calcium enriched foods

According to WebMD, calcium-enriched foods are important because calcium has a number of benefits. They include treating/preventing of osteoporosis, controlling high levels of things like magnesium, phosphorous and potassium in the blood and there is also a lot of evidence that calcium helps prevent and control high blood pressure.

Artificial sweetener

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There are pros and cons when it comes to artificial sweeteners. The pros are that they have less to no calories as compared to traditional sweeteners like sugar and they are more friendly to those that have diabetes issues. The cons to artificial sweeteners is that they taste different and they do not possess any real nutritional value.

Phytosterols and phystostanols

A2 Coursework on Best Foods for You Assignment

Phytosterols (plant sterols) and phytostanols (fully-saturated phytosterols) have been shown to reduce cholesterol in many patients. As explained by an NIH-published article, these two substances have "received much attention in the last five years because of their cholestorl-lowering properties.


These are "plant derived compounds found in a wide variety of foods, most notably soy. The healthy benefits touted for phyto-estrogens include better results related to osteoporosis, heart disease, breast cancer and menopause symptoms.

3) List several steps a consumer or health professional can take to independently evaluate the health safety of a functional food.

There are a few things that a consumer or health professional can do.

Look into the reputation and history of the company. Are they a stabl company? How long have they been around? How much in sales do they do in a year? Are they well-reviewed on websites that have lots of different reviews and perspectives from consumers?

What has the FDA done or said vis-a-vis the company? After all, if they are making claims that are dubious or false, the FDA would step in due to the blurry lines that sometimes exist when it comes to food and drugs (when it comes to functional foods in particular)

Is the company transparent when it comes to the claims they make, the research they have done (or are pointing to) and so forth. For example, Cheerios has a webpage dedicated to the health benefits of their product.

4) Describe at least two benefits of spices in your diet. Provide examples of how these spices are good for you.

Cayenne pepper is touted for the fact that it contains capsaicin. This is the part of the pepper that makes it hot. However, it is known for its relieving of pain, improvement of circulation and improving of hearth health.

Ginger is known for treating upset stomachs, gas and bloating. It also helps with sore throats, colds, arthritis and motion sickness.

Feenel is considered a weed by a lot of people but it actually has some very helpful benefits. These would include the fact that it is high in calcium, high in vitamin C (which promotes immune health) and it also has dietary fiber and iron.

5) What are the health benefits of a diet which contains cinnamon? What compounds in cinnamon provide these benefits? How can you use cinnamon in your daily diet?

Cinnamon is known to help with the reduction of inflammation, lowering of blood sugar and lowering of blood triglyceride levels. It can help alleviate nausea, increase sensitivity to insulin (which aids in fat burning) and it is also a good source of manganese, iron and calcium. It can be used and wieled in a variety of ways including being added to coffee, cookies, muffins and desserts. It an also be added to healthier options like oatmeal, yogurt and cottage cheese.

6) Why is rosemary beneficial to your liver? Included definition of choleretic and hepaprotective. Name a few ways you can increase your consumption of rosemary?

One major way in which rosemary is beneficial to the liver is that it has been shown to prevent DNA mutations and this is true in the liver and the bronchial cells in particular. These DNA shifts are caused by chemicals and toxins and those are the items that the liver is meant to clean. If these shifts do happen, cancerous growths can occur. The definition of choleretic are substances that increase the volume of secretion of bile from the liver as well as the amount of solids that are secreted. Hepa-protectoin or anti-hepatotoxicity is the ability to prevent damage to the liver. The damage is know as hepatotoxicity.

7) Compare and contrast the processing techniques used to produce green tea and black tea. How does this processing affect the catechin content of the tea. Should tea be included in a healthy diet as a disease prevention supplement?

Green tea leaves are harvested, withered and then heated through teaming or pan-firing. Black leaves are harvested, withered and then crushed, torn or rolled to allow them to be oxidized before being dried. The latter process for black tea leads to a stronger flavor and aroma. Because of the difference in the processing methods, green tea has more catechins.

8) Blueberries are often referred to as a super-food. What health benefits are associated with the consumption of blueberries. What components are beneficial to health?

The health benefits that are associated with blueberries include the maintaining of healthy bones, the lowering of blood pressure, the managing of diabetes, the warding off of heart disease, the prevention of cancer, the improving of mental health, healthier digestion, weight loss/satiety and the fighting of wrinkles. The components of blueberries that lead to all of this include a 24% daily value of vitamin C, a five percent value of B6, a 36% value of vitamin K There is also presence of a lot of iron, calcium, manganese, zinc, copper, folate, beta-carotene, folate, choline, vitamin A and vitamin E Overall, there is a large amount of what are known as bio-active compounds and blueberries are very high on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, or ANDI.

9) Using the definition of a functional food, why is fiber a functional food? What is the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber?

It is a functional food because it has a benefit beyond simple nutritional value, which is what the definition of a functional food is. At one time, the only real benefit of fiber was found to be regularity in terms of digestion. The fiber comes in the form of both soluble and insoluble fibers as derived and found in fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and spices. It has many functional food benefits including positive influences on insulin sensitivity, heart/cardiovascular disease inhibition and so forth. The main difference between soluble and insoluble fiber is that the former dissolves in water while the latter does not.

10) Explain the benefits of soy. How do the phyto-estrogens in soy work in the human body. Are phyto-estrogens only found in soy products? It is known that soy may increase bone mass density, what are two other ways of increasing bone mass density1. The American Dietetic Association conducted a survey that showed 2 of 5 people in the U.S. thought following a healthful diet meant completely giving up foods they enjoy. What does a healthful diet mean? What are some key principles of your own diet which have been shown to have health benefits? ( I eat fruits vegetables, very little fat, chicken, whole grains. I limit carbs and sugars in my diet.)

Per WebMD, two of the major benefits of soy are on heart health and bone health. However, the evidence on soy is not completely established per many doctors who say the evidence is mixed. Phyto-estrogens are indeed present in soy but there are other foods that also contain them including flaxseed, whole grains in general, nuts (e.g. walnuts) and a lot of herbs. A healthy diet does not necessarily mean giving up on things that are enjoyed. However, it does mean exercising control over things like portion control, what is eaten, the proportion of what precisely is eaten and so forth. A healthy diet will have the proper balance of whole grains, fruit and vegetables, protein, dairy, fat and sugar.

11) What is a Phytonutrient? Where are they found? Give examples of how they work.


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How to Cite "Best Foods" A2 Coursework in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Best Foods.  (2015, June 21).  Retrieved September 19, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Best Foods."  21 June 2015.  Web.  19 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Best Foods."  June 21, 2015.  Accessed September 19, 2020.