Definition of Functional Foods and Examples of Functional Foods

Functional Food – As we know that every human being definitely needs food or food to survive. With the food we eat, we will get energy or strength to be able to do our daily activities, be it heavy activities or light activities. In addition, food can make the body fit and healthy, thus avoiding some diseases.

In this fast-paced life, human awareness of the importance of healthy food is quite high. In fact, it can be said that most people are aware that food does not only function as a filler to fill the stomach, but it is necessary to observe the nutritional content of the food eaten. Things like this need to be spread to others so that more and more people behave in a healthy way, especially through food.

However, there are still many foods out there that contain pesticides. This is because when the food is grown or harvested it does not use organic ingredients. If the pesticide substance is still within normal limits, it does not really harm our body. However, if the pesticide substance is beyond normal limits, then it is best not to consume that food.

For those of you who don’t know what functional food is, let’s get acquainted with the term. By getting to know functional foods, you can live a healthy life, so that your body’s health can be improved and the risk of disease can be reduced. So, read this article to the end, Reader.

Meaning of Functional Food

In maintaining life, humans need food, especially food that contains the nutritional value needed for the body. By consuming nutritious food, we can create a healthy body. A healthy body will make us feel better in carrying out various activities and the most important thing about a healthy body is that it can reduce the risk of getting sick.

To get a healthy body, not only consume nutritious food, but you need to get used to organizing the right diet. With nutritious food and a regular diet, the body is not only healthy, but will be fit as if there is a sense of enthusiasm in carrying out activities.

Food or functional food is food that is born from food ingredients that contain nutrients and bioactive compounds that play a very important role in maintaining the health of the body. Therefore, functional food is food or food that is natural or has gone through a processing process that has the function of maintaining the metabolism of the human body.

Functional foods can be eaten as foods that have been freed from harmful chemicals, one of which is pesticides. Food that is free from pesticides will not harm the body, it can even make the body healthier

Currently, functional food can be known by several terms, namely Functional food, Nutraceutical, Pharma food, Designer food, Vita food, Phytochemical, Food Aceutical, Health food, Natural food, and Real food. Although functional food has many terms, but until now there has not been an agreed functional food term.

The Meaning of Functional Food According to Experts

According to the Indonesian Language Dictionary (KBBI)

Functional foods are natural and artificial foods that contain one or more compounds that are beneficial for health.

According to Astawan

Astawan says that functional food is food that contains active components that can have a positive impact on health, apart from the benefits provided by the nutrients contained therein.

According to the Consensus Document Scientific Concepts of Functional Foods in Europe

This consensus document was published by the European Commission Concerted Action on Functional Food Science in Europe (FUFOSE). Based on this document, functional food is food that is proven to provide one or more benefits that can be felt by the body, maintain health and fitness, and reduce the risk of disease.

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According to Nenden Indrayati A

Functional food is food or food that is natural or that has been processed, containing one or more compounds based on scientific research that are considered to have a variety of specific physiological functions that have a good impact on human health.

According to Goldberg 

Goldberg states that functional foods are foods (not pills, powders or capsules) that come from natural ingredients. This food can launch processes in the body, such as taking care of physical and mental conditions, curing diseases, and preventing diseases.

Functions of Functional Foods

According to Astawan, functional food has three functions, namely sensory, nutritional, and physiological .

1. Sensory

The first function of functional food is sensory or food that has an interesting color and appearance and the taste of the food is very delicious. Food with an attractive appearance will look very tasty to enjoy, so that there are nutrients that enter the body. In addition, food texture is also included in sensory .

2. Nutritional

Every human being definitely needs nutrition to support his life. In this function, food contains higher nutrients than similar foods. The nutrients contained in the food will provide a positive impact that can be felt by every human body.

3. Physiological

Food can provide a physiological effect that can be felt by the body, such as the body’s immune system is well maintained, the nervous system can function properly, delay the aging process, and prevent the appearance of diseases.

Examples of Conventional Functional Foods

Taken from several sources, examples of conventional functional foods include:

1. Fruits

Fruits are well known as food or intake rich in vitamins. Each fruit has different vitamins. Therefore, everyone should choose fruits that suit the needs of the body. For example, oranges that are rich in vitamin C, apples that contain a lot of vitamin A, bananas that contain vitamins A and C, and other fruits.

2. Spices

Indonesia is very well known for its spices, even almost every preparation of Indonesian cuisine contains spices. Spices that can be used as functional foods, such as cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, ginger, etc.

3. Fermented food

Fermented food can be used as a functional food. Currently, there are many fermented foods, such as tempeh, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and so on.

4. Drinks

Some drinks will be beneficial for the body as long as they are consumed regularly and not excessively. Drinks that can be used as functional food because they have nutrition in them, namely coffee, black tea, green tea, herbs, and others.

5. Vegetables

Just like fruits, vegetables contain vitamins and substances that are very beneficial for the health of the body. We should get the vegetables that are around us. Vegetables around us, such as spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, white mustard, etc.

6. Grains

Grains that look small turn out to be included in functional food. Grains as functional food, such as buckwheat, brown rice, wheat, oats, barley, etc.

7. Seafood

It is no longer strange that seafood contains a lot of vitamins and substances that are beneficial for the body. Therefore, seafood is included in functional foods. Examples of seafood are salmon, anchovies, sardines, cod, prawns, lobsters, and others.

8. Nuts

After grains, nuts can also be used as functional foods, including almonds, cashews, pistachios , Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts , and so on.

9. Legumes

Legumes are foods that contain nutrients and belong to the legume family. The amount of nutrients contained in legume plants, so the plants are included in functional foods, such as peanuts, chickpeas, soybeans, lentils, red beans, green beans, etc.

Examples of Functional Food Modifications

Below will be given examples of functional foods that have been modified. The examples are taken from several sources, namely:

1. Yogurt

Yoghurt is a food made from milk that is processed by fermentation. Yogurt is rich in vitamin D content that can strengthen bones.

2. Almond milk

After yogurt, now there is milk made from nuts, such as almond milk and cashew nut milk which are very beneficial for our body because they contain a lot of vitamin D and calcium.

3. Bread and pasta

Are you someone who eats bread or pasta for breakfast? Bread and pasta turns out to have a lot of iron content. The iron content can reduce the risk of anemia.

4. Cereal

The next modified food is cereal. Cereal is enriched with vitamin B12, so it is very suitable to be used as a functional food.

5. Packaged juice

If you are too lazy to make juice, then you can buy bottled juice. Although this juice is packaged, the nutritional content in it is still very good for the body.

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Types of Functional Foods

Functional foods are divided into several types, namely based on the source of food or food and based on the way it is processed.

1. Based on Food Sources

Functional food sources are still divided into two, namely plant-derived food sources and animal-derived food sources. Plant-based foods, such as grapes, tomatoes, brown rice, soybeans, etc. While the food source comes from animals, such as salmon, tuna, milkfish, and others. Not only fish, animal food sources also come from beef, goat meat, etc.

2. Based on the Processing Method

There are three types of functional food processing methods, namely natural functional food, traditional functional food, and modern functional food.

a. Naturally

Functional food can naturally be interpreted as food that can be eaten directly or processed into a dish, such as kale, spinach, broccoli, etc. Fruits also include naturally functional foods, such as oranges, watermelons, pears, guavas, and so on.

b. Traditionally

Indonesia is well known for its traditionally processed foods. Functional foods processed traditionally, such as kencur rice, bandrek, tape, dali , and others.

c. Modernly

After functional foods that were processed traditionally, now functional foods can be processed in modern ways, such as pasta, isotonic drinks, sausages, packaged juices, and others.

Benefits of Functional Foods

Functional foods that we consume have several benefits for us. Below will be briefly explained the benefits of functional food.

1. Protect Yourself From Disease

It seems that it has become a common thing that functional food is indeed one of our personal protectors in order to avoid various diseases, especially chronic diseases. Not only that, functional food can also be used as medicine when we are affected by an illness.

Apart from medicine, the body needs energy so that our body has the ability to move, so that the disease can be fought well. By protecting yourself from illness, it is the same as making the people closest to you happy.

“Why can functional foods protect us from disease?” That question may often appear for some people, especially those who are not used to consuming functional foods. In functional food there is a substance called “antioxidant”. The molecules in antioxidant substances will protect us from free radicals. Free radicals are substances that can damage cells in the body.

Thus, we should assume that health is the number one thing that needs to be taken care of, so we will try to eat functional food and eat with a regular diet.

2. Keeping the Body Not Deficient in Nutrition

The nutrients in functional foods are very abundant, so that if we consume those foods, the nutrients in the body will be fulfilled. The nutrients found in functional foods, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats. All these nutrients are beneficial for the body. For example, fiber that can be useful for smoothing the digestion of food, vitamins that are useful as boosters of the body’s immunity, and so on.

If our body suffers from a lack of nutrition, then it is very vulnerable to disease, so it will be difficult to do various daily activities. In fact, some diseases require us to ask for help from others, such as heart, stroke, etc.

Basically, there are many diseases caused by our lack of body nutrition. For example, goiter caused by iodine deficiency, anemia caused by iron deficiency, and many more.

Therefore, if we want to avoid diseases caused by malnutrition, we must get used to consuming functional foods regularly. Even better, we should get used to a healthy lifestyle, such as sports, regulating sleep patterns, etc.

3. Encouraging the Growth and Development of Children

The growth of the child must be observed so as not to experience a delay in growth. If a child experiences growth retardation, then some parts of the body will not function optimally. Body parts that cannot function optimally will make it difficult for a child to do some activities, so they will be “left behind” from children of their age.

Functional foods have nutritional contents that can be beneficial for children’s growth, such as vitamin B12, omega 3, calcium, folic acid, and others. Vitamin B12 and calcium are very good for the growth of children’s bones, the fulfillment of these two nutrients, then the bones will be strong. Omega 3 can improve brain health and intelligence. Folic acid reduces a child’s risk of spinal cord disease, reduces the risk of neural tube defects, etc.

For this reason, every parent should give functional food as soon as they are children, so that the child’s growth will go well. Parents can provide food, such as milk, grains, cereals, etc.


Food or food is the main source in human life because with food, then humans can undergo various kinds of daily activities. Food consumed by humans can be of natural origin or that has gone through the processing process. From wherever the food we consume comes from, we must look at the quality of the food. Not only looking at the quality of food, but the nutrition in a food also needs to be considered.