The Definition of Functional Foods
Food as medicine is not a new concept; it has been practiced for thousands of years. In reality, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, proposed the concept “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food” over 2500 years ago. The notion of functional foods was initially introduced in Japan in the mid-1980s. The European Commission Concerted Action on Functional Food Scientific in Europe (FUFOSE) was established in the late 1990s to build a science-based strategy for concepts in functional food science.
Today, the word biofunctional foods refers to foods or food ingredients that, due to their physiologically bioactive food components, provide health advantages in addition to providing basic nutrition demands (i.e. bioactive compounds or bioactive food components). In the United States, however, there is no precise definition of functional foods. Several well-known groups have developed their own definitions. Although these organizations acknowledge that all foods are functional on some level because they provide the energy and nutrients needed to sustain life, they also acknowledge that certain foods may provide additional health benefits and may exert specific functional effects within the body (e.g. reduction of blood pressure, inflammation, blood sugar levels, etc.).