It's worth nothing that you'll hear this term a lot more in the future. More and more doctors and health writers are picking it up, a term invented by marketers, to describe the benefits of certain types of foods that actually have valid medical claims behind them.
I'm not agreeing 100% with the list below . . . I believe that the inclusion of too much dairy into the diet is a bad thing, not a good thing. My family has noticed that whenever we drink a lot of cow's milk or eat a lot of yogurt, we become full of congestion and mucous. Anyone else notice this? Write in a comment, please.
Here's the NY State list:
Top Five Functional Foods
1. Salmon: Nutrition experts chose salmon as the top function food for omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids not only raise good HDL cholesterol and lower bad LDL cholesterol, they may also lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The American Heart Association suggests that people with coronary heart disease consume about 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids daily. They do not recommend supplements for healthy people; instead, they recommend eating fish twice a week.
2. Oats: Second on the list, oats were chosen for their fiber content. This powerhouse nutrient, known for aiding with digestion, also helps fight disease, and may lower risk for high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Most Americans get about 15 grams of fiber daily, but to fight disease and keep digestion in check, you should aim to get at least 30 grams, which is equivalent to about two cups of oats.
3. Blueberries: Coming in third, blueberries where chosen for antioxidants. Antioxidants are thought to help protect the body against the damaging effects of free radicals and the chronic diseases associated with the aging process. Blueberries are among the fruits with the highest antioxidant activity containing 14 mg of vitamin C and 0.8 mg vitamin E per cup.
4. Low-Fat Milk: Low-fat milk came in fourth for both its calcium and vitamin D content. Instrumental in lowering high blood pressure, helping with regular heart beat, and building strong bones, calcium is a nutrient most Americans are not getting enough of. The same is true for vitamin D, a nutrient receiving a substantial amount of attention and found to have numerous health benefits including prevention of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The current recommendation for low-fat milk and dairy products is three servings per day, which is equal to three 8-oz cups of milk.
5. Low-Fat Yogurt: Rounding out the top five functional food list is low-fat yogurt with probiotics. Probiotic, which literally means ''for life,'' refers to living organisms that can aid in digestion and immune function when eaten in adequate amounts. Look for brands that say "live and active cultures" on the label.