Functional Foods: Definition,Types, Benefits, Uses and Examples

Functional foods became more popular in recent years as they are fortified with essential minerals, vitamins etc, which are useful in reducing many health problems. The functional foods are the foods which are enriched with any essential nutrients or to have an additional function by adding new ingredients or more of existing ingredients.

What Are Functional Foods ?

Foods that are fortified with any vitamin or mineral are also known as functional foods. Functional foods may help to promote wellness, they can’t lead to poor eating habits. Functional foods also reduce the risk of diseases or reduce any health condition.

Functional foods are highly nutritious and relate with a number of health benefits. They may protect against many diseases, prevent nutrient deficiencies, and helps in proper growth and development.

Some foods fortified with vitamins, minerals, probiotics, or fiber like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains are considered as  functional foods.

Functional Foods are normally classified as follow:

  1. Bodybuilding Foods
  2. Energy Yielding Foods (carbohydrates)
  3. Protein Rich Foods
  4. Protective Foods (fruits and vegetables)


  1. Helps in nutrient deficiencies
  2. May protect from diseases
  3. May lead to balanced diet
  4. Helps in proper growth and brain development

Types Of Functional Foods:

As said functional foods as the foods which contains medicinal uses and these naturally functional foods are modified to get some additional benefits by different types of methods:

1. Fortified Foods:

The food which is fortified with additional nutrients like vitamin A, D, calcium, iron etc.

2. Enriched Foods:

In these foods, nutrients are added as usual but these added nutrients are not naturally found in that food. It mean, we add the nutrient which is lacking in that food product.

3. Enhanced Foods:

In these type of foods, required component is enhanced naturally by maintaining certain conditions like new feed conditions, genetic manipulations for special growth of particular food item.

4. Altered Foods:

In these foods, we alter the harmful or useless component that are naturally present are replaced or reduced with beneficial component.

5. Non-Altered Food:

Foods naturally containing increased content of nutrients.

Category Of Functional Foods With Examples:

1. Modified Foods
•Enriched foods
•Enhanced foods
Iodised salt
Folate enriched foods (breads)
Energy bars, yogurt
2. Conventional FoodsWhole grains. nuts, beans
3. Medicinal FoodsPKU formula foods, fatty fish, berries, mushrooms
4. Dietary Use FoodsInfant foods, weight loss foods, gluten-free 7 lactose-free foods.

Examples For Some Of The Functional Foods

Foods that provide health promoting benefits beyond required nutrition are generally known as Functional foods. The most common and popular functional foods are as given below:

  • Orange Juice is fortified with calcium to increase bone health and reduce osteoporosis. Orange juice is said to be modified functional food as it is lack of calcium naturally.
  • Oatmeal is also said to be natural functional food, because it contains soluble fiber that can help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Milk is also comes under functional food as it is complete protein and also contains useful fats, vitamins, minerals.
  • Olive oil contains rich levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and is also a good source of phytochemicals including polyphenolic compounds.
  • Cereals like wheat flour is fortified with folic acid, iron and vitamin B12, to reduce anemia and increase blood formation.

Modified Foods:

  • Fortified juices
  • Fortified dairy products, such as milk and yogurt
  • Fortified milk alternatives, such as almond, rice, coconut, and cashew milk
  • Fortified grains, such as bread and pasta
  • Fortified cereal and granola
  • Fortified eggs

Uses Of Functional Foods:

Functional foods like protein rich foods and protein powders are helpful in increasing lean body mass, helpful for foetal growth and increase mortality.

Whey proteins are naturally rich in alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin, thus known as functional foods.

Coconut contains unsaturated fats and helps for lubrication of skin. Hence, coconut oil is better than many other cosmetic oils.

Some of the Functional Foods Available in Global Market:

Types Of Functional FoodsAvailable In The Market As
1.ProbioticsSpecies of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacillus, Streptococcus etc.
2.PrebioticsSoya bean oligosaccharide, Galacto- oligosaccharide, Xylo-oligosaccharide, Inulin etc.
3. Cereals
Barley based and oats based products, beta glucans etc.
4. Drinks
Energy drinks, Sports drink, Weight gain & weight loss drinks, coffee, tea etc.
5. Meat
Fat reduction meat, Meat added with spices, veggies, dietary fibers. Production of bioactive compounds during processing.
6. Enriched EggsNatural eggs are enriched with added vitamin E, selenium, PUFA, lutein.


Functional foods are the foods that offer great developing features to improve health and to prevent and reduce certain diseases when taken as part of a balanced diet.