Functional Foods and Obesity
be regarded as functional if proven to affect beneficially one or more target
functions in the body, beyond adequate nutritional effects, in a way relevant to
improved state of health and well-being, reduction of risk of diseases, or both.
Research is now showing it's possible to promote health and wellness using foods
and beverages that influence angiogenesis.
Functional foods might have a particularly high impact for prevention or
treatment of overweight and diabetes for
which, more than in many other fields, the link between nutrition,
biological responses and diseases is clearly established. Functional foods for
obesity should be able to influence the energy balance
equation regulated by the control of energy intake or of energy dissipated as
heat (thermogenesis). Of particular interest is the potential of DHA (Docosahexaenoic
Acid) supplements and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), in preventing
obesity and related metabolic disorders.
The n−3 fatty acid recommendation to achieve nutritional adequacy, defined as
the amount necessary to prevent deficiency symptoms, is 0.6–1.2% of energy for
ALA; up to 10% of this can be provided by EPA or DHA. To achieve recommended ALA
intakes, food sources including flaxseed and
flaxseed oil, walnuts and walnut oil, and canola oil are
recommended. The evidence base supports a dietary recommendation of ≈500 mg/d of
EPA and DHA for disease risk reduction.
However, it is important to consider that nutrients must be viewed both in
the context of preventing a nutrient inadequacy (as defined by the initial
clinical lesion or symptom) and in the context of reducing the risk of chronic
diseases. Therefore, nutrient requirements should be viewed from the perspective
of the intake that is required to reduce disease risk rather than solely the
amount that prevents nutrient inadequacy as defined historically by classic
"Diets emphasizing different types of fats, saturated
fatty acid, monounsaturated fatty acid, n-3 and n-6 PUFA have been shown to
differentially modulate overall energy metabolism."
according to Dr Yinghua Yu, a National Health and Medical Research Council
Australia-China Exchange Training Fellow. Dr Yu recently conducted clinical
research investigating the serum levels of phospholipid fatty acids in Chinese
men with metabolic syndrome, with the results published in the refereed journal,
Nutrition Research. The study found that the proportion of DHA n-3 PUFA (widely
held to be the most important of the n-3 PUFA) decreased in the serum of
metabolic syndrome individuals and is negatively correlated to body weight.
The anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity properties of teasaponin – a glycoside
compound extracted from tea seeds – have also been studied, with Dr Yu
finding that the compound did indeed reduce liver and visceral
fat inflammation and improved central leptin sensitivity in diet-induced
Green coffee beans
Overall, the available evidence on functional foods so far identified in this
field is incomplete: the major gap is the lack of diet-based intervention trials
of sufficient duration to be relevant for the natural history of diseases like
overweight and diabetes.
Dated 12 August 2013