The Future

The future of functional foods will undoubtedly involve a continuation of the labeling and safety debates. As consumers become more health conscious, the demand and market value for health-promoting foods and food components is expected to grow. Before the full market potential can be realized, however, consumers need to be assured of the safety and efficacy of functional foods. Future research will focus on mechanisms by which food components such as phytochemicals positively affect health, and whether these components work independently or synergistically. According to the American Dietetic Association, dietetics professionals will be increasingly called upon to develop preventive meal plans, to recommend changes in food intake, to enhance phytochemical and functional food intake, and to evaluate the appropriateness of functional foods and dietary supplements to meet preventive (and therapeutic) intake levels for both healthy persons and those diagnosed with disease. see also Antioxidants; Phytochemicals.

M. Elizabeth Kunkel Barbara H. D. Luccia


American Dietetic Association (1999). "Functional Foods—Position of the ADA." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 99:1278-1285. Also available from <>

Mazza, G., ed. (1998). Functional Foods: Biochemical and Processing Aspects. Lancaster, PA: Technomic Publishing.

Wildman, Robert E. C., ed. (2001). Handbook of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

protein: complex molecule composed of amino acids that performs vital functions in the cell; necessary part of the diet saturated fat: a fat with the maximum possible number of hydrogens; more difficult to break down than unsaturated fats cholesterol: multi-ringed molecule found in animal cell membranes; a type of lipid heart disease: any disorder of the heart or its blood supply, including heart attack, atherosclerosis, and coronary artery disease cancer: uncontrolled cell growth hypertension: high blood pressure neural: related to the nervous system efficacy: effectiveness

Dr. Casimir Funk, who discovered that substances in food could prevent or cure certain diseases. He called those substances "vitamines." [AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced by permission.]

vitamin: necessary complex nutrient used to aid enzymes or other metabolic processes in the cell scurvy: a syndrome characterized by weakness, anemia, and spongy gums, due to vitamin C deficiency niacin: one of the B vitamins, required for energy production in the cell rickets: disorder caused by vitamin D deficiency, marked by soft and misshapen bones and organ swelling vitamin D: nutrient needed for calcium uptake and therefore proper bone formation amine: compound containing nitrogen linked to hydrogen hormone: molecules produced by one set of cells that influence the function of another set of cells pituitary gland: gland at the base of the brain that regulates multiple body processes cancer: uncontrolled cell growth diabetes: inability to regulate level of sugar in the blood ulcer: erosion in the lining of the stomach or intestine due to bacterial infection drugs: substances whose administration causes a significant change in the body's function

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