Improve Your Diet With Functional Foods

Faryal Panhwar Jan 13 2015

Are you tired of your mother’s endless complains regarding your junk-eating habit? They don’t seem to understand the magic that the garlic mayo rolls and upsize meals with the extra cheese and extra mayo stir in our taste buds. Has it become easier to expend 300 rupees on the sub of the day than putting in a little bit of effort into making your own healthy sandwich at home?

Why would it not? With the strategically advertised mozzarella cheese topped over that crusty cream pizza on posters everywhere you look and all over your Facebook newsfeed, it feels physically impossible to resist the burning temptation inside.

Little do we know about the consequences of this vulnerability to junk food. Obesity, diabetes, lack of proper nutrition and even depression are some of its direct consequences. The easily available burgers, fries, fettuccini and bun-kababs simply don’t provide enough nourishment to balance your diet and hormones. Hormonal changes during puberty are inevitable and inescapable; puberty is the time a person requires a nutritious diet to balance out the hormones. Acne, hair fall, and skin darkening are all the penalties you have to pay if you don’t utilize functional foods and rely only on the junk for the most part.

It’s time to replace the junk with the functional. If you are over-weight or even if you are on the way there, remember: it’s never too late! Find out about these functional foods and how they could revolutionize your health.

What are Functional Foods?

Typically, all foods are functional because they provide us with the basic nutrients. But the term ‘functional foods’ applies to special types of food which provide more than just the basic nutrition – they are the special foods that our grandparents and parents have always been stressing us to eat. Their health benefits are bigger and better, more to optimize our energy and bodily functions. Not only do they maximize our energy, but also play a vital role in disease control and prevention. Looks like Hippocrates’s tenet ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’ is gaining renewed interest!

A relevant example would that be of oatmeal. Ever wonder why nutritionists emphasize so much on eating oatmeal for breakfast? You have your answer right here – it is naturally loaded with nutrients ample enough to help multiply your energy and metabolic activities.

It is essential that we are aware of what these functional foods are, but choose them wisely because they don’t compensate for poor eating habits.


Substantial research from over the years has suggested that plant produce has the capability of reducing the risk of disease, especially cancer. One of these produce is tomatoes. For those vegans out there, you will be glad to find out that our very own red berry nightshade Solanum, a plant that yields small cherry sized tomatoes, are associated with a decrease in the risk of prostate cancer by a considerable margin.


Garlic has always been a darling when it comes to naturally reducing cholesterol levels, fighting hypertension and cancer prevention. Hence it is another functional food we must all make sure to include in our meals frequently. Garlic’s pungent and characteristic flavor make it quite unlikeable, but tactfully stirring the immaculate amount into cooled pasta sauce, or adding it to mashed potatoes will definitely help!

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables constitute some of the best natural sources of foods that provide beyond basic nutrition and health. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables markedly reduces the risk of overall disease such as heart attack. Vegetables are nutrient-wealth foods rich in various Vitamins, such as Vitamin A (spinach, turnips), Vitamin B (Fish, beef), Vitamin C (Cabbage, Cauliflower, and Brussel Sprouts), Vitamin D, potassium etc. All of these nutrients from vegetables aid in boosting eye-sight and vision, and help in the maintenance of blood sugar, cholesterol, fat and protein at an adequate level.

All fruits provide similar health benefits. A small step towards consuming functional foods would be replacing mid-day and mid-night snacks with a bowl of fruit salad. There is nothing fresher and healthier than a fruit-salad or even our much beloved Ramazan loving fruit-chaat!

Fortified Foods

Additionally, fortified foods – cereals, orange juice, dairy produce (milk and eggs), beef liver and others – if taken adequately, form a balanced diet and will do wonders to your health. Now go ahead and figure out which one of these have you been missing out on!

Your Plan

If you cannot get rid of your junk food habit, try and incorporate functional foods in your diet. Foods such as garlic, all fruits and vegetables, tomatoes, and even fortified cereals and dairy products all contain nutrients that have greater health benefits. Elevate your energy and prevent diseases with functional foods!

Faryal Panhwar

Faryal Panhwar:

Faryal is currently a second year M.B.B.S student at Ziauddin University. She is an active participate in the Model UN where her passion for debate has received her several delegate awards. Seeking to discover the writer in herself Faryal is now working as a freelance writer for HTV.