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Natural Miracles:
What Functional Foods Can Do for You?

(Released October 2007)

 
  by Leila Kiani  

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About 2,500 years ago Hippocrates had a profound idea: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Now consumer interest following this idea supports a healthier life by choosing specific foods that provide additional benefits beyond their basic nutritional needs. Potentially all foods have nutritional value, aroma and taste, but now people are looking for other physiological properties such as acting as an antioxidant, boosting the immune system, aiding digestion, and having anti-cancer properties. For example, shiitake, an edible mushroom that can be served fresh, cooked, dried, powdered and pickled, has many of these properties.

Here is a breakdown of shiitake's nutritional value. You can see that shiitake is highly nutritional, along with the worth of its vitamins and minerals. However, this article will show you the many non-nutritional health benefits-that is benefits that enhance basic health such as heart, brain, and immune functions-of an enormous variety of natural foods, including shiitake.

Table 1: Nutrients per Serving for Mushrooms, shiitake, dried (1)
Amounts per 1 mushroom (4g)
Food Energy
Amounts Per Selected Serving
Protein 0.3 g
Total Carbohydrate 2.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Folate 5.7 mcg
Magnesium 4.6 mg
Phosphorus 10.3 mg
Potassium 53.7 mg

Foods already have nutrients and energy for nourishing the body. Improving nutrition has played a necessary role for increasing life duration. The point of this article is that the effect of diet on a healthy life is much broader than just basic nutrients (2).

Health benefits make some kind of foods "Functional Foods," which help you to gain a healthy body beyond the value of nutrition. Wellness is under the individual's control through choosing good foods, and the easiest way to do this is by following the food pyramid's recommendation.

food pyramid
The Food Pyramid
This article focuses on functional effects of fruits and vegetables and what you add as spices or additives to foods. It also has a short summary of the benefits of other non-fruit and vegetable foods such as mushrooms and blue-green algae.

Go To Phytochemicals

Acknowledgment: I appreciate all of Deborah Whitman's help and ideas throughout the writing

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