Volume 113, Number 8 pages 1096-1103 (August 2013)
It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to recognize that although all foods provide some level of physiological function, the term functional foods is defined as whole foods along with fortified, enriched, or enhanced foods that have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed as part of a varied diet on a regular basis at effective levels based on significant standards of evidence. The Academy supports Food and Drug Administrationapproved health claims on food labels when based on rigorous scientific substantiation. All food is essentially functional at some level as it provides energy and nutrients needed to sustain life. However, there is growing evidence that some food components, not considered nutrients in the traditional sense, may provide positive health benefits. Foods containing these food components are called functional foods. Functional food research holds many promises for improving the quality of life for consumers; however, to achieve such outcomes, scientific research must effectively establish the bioavailability and efficacy of these compounds at levels that are physiologically achievable under typical dietary patterns. This Position Paper reviews the complexities of defining functional foods; categories of foods marketed as functional; regulation of functional foods; the scientific substantiation of and advancement of functional food research; as well as a message to registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered, on how to remain current in their knowledge of functional food research and the translation of this information to consumers.