What are functional foods? And how do they benefit me?

fitness food tips healthy tips lifestyle Oct 23, 2022

By Sophia McDermott, Lifestyle Coach & Fitness Expert. 

Functional foods are ‘active foods’ that work to keep you healthy and assist in a better quality of life.

Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is crucial for health. Some foods have active components that are able to prevent or reduce the risk of developing some diseases - and these are what I call ‘functional foods.’.

Eating functional foods can help heal you, scavenge free radicals and supply a surplus of vitamins and minerals so its is so important to be eating these functional or active foods on a regular basis, as in with each meal. So if currently your diet consists of burgers, shake and fries anad you add an occasional salad in as a token effort to be healthy, then think again. None of these foods work for your health (except the salad), so over time you will feel the effects.  

If eating functional foods is a challenge for you then here are some  suggestions to include in your diet to enhance your health and well-being. Check out:


Good fats that help to lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation: 

Fish such as sardines, salmon, tuna, and trout – are ideal for reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and inflammation.


Some suggestions of these are: 

Flaxseed, walnut, almond, chestnut, and olive oil, coconut oil, Avocado oil and fish oils – stimulate the immune system, have anti-inflammatory action, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Leafy green veggies.

Green leaves in general – have antioxidant action, fight free radicals and have cancer flighting compounds. They also protect against macular degeneration (changes in vision) and cataracts.

Some suggestions of these are:

Cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and radish – are inducers of protective enzymes that can protect against some types of cancer, especially breast cancer;



Eating foods high in fiber help with digestion and elimination of waste as well as help to manage blood sugar levels and cholesterol. They can increase the feeling of satiety to help you to feel fuller for longer so that you are less likely to snack on junk food.

Some suggestions of these are:

Beans, peas, lentils, and fruits in shells.  – These also help to reduce the risk of colon cancer and contribute to the proper functioning of the intestine. 


Basically you can see that most of the functional foods are derived from fruits or vegetables, nuts and seeds. Functional foods derived from animal sources are limited to fish that contain higher levels of omega 3 fats. 

If you incorporate these foods in with every meal, say a big salad with some salmon for lunch and nuts, chopped fruit for a snack and steamed veggies and legumes for dinner you are hitting your nutrition goals and ensuring that the food you eat is working for you. Aligning this with regular physical exercise, you get incredible results and unparalleled quality of life. Do good for yourself, your body will thank you!