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Are All Functional Foods Really Functional?

Are All Functional Foods Really Functional?A New York Times article (“ Foods with Benefits, or So They Say”) questions the legitimacy of functional foods. Grocery store aisles are brimming with food products that claim to impart some health benefit, including many items that are artificially enhanced with antioxidants and other nutrients that nature did not intend for them to have. In the United States, sales of functional foods are up and show no sign of declining: from $28.2 billion in 2005 to $37.3 billion in 2009.

IFT member Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, says that functional foods “are not about health. They are about marketing.” And for many grocery store items packaged to sell by food marketing experts, her sentiments may be true. But there are some food scientists who are dedicated to determining the healthful nutrients in natural, non-processed foods and how they benefit the human body.

For the 2011 Annual Meeting & Food Expo, IFT has lined up several scientific sessions that focus on the benefits of certain foods and food groups—none of which focuses on the nutrient-enhanced food fads that line supermarket shelves. Session 019-01, “Inflammation: What It Is and What Foods Can Do about It,” Keep Reading