Okay…To put it simply, in a common expression, the foods that we'll talk about in this blog post are "convenient" in the best sense of the word! If we look at it a little more scientifically, we could say that these foods are functional. Functional or convenient, one thing is for sure: They are the new trend in the field of cooking and nutrition in general.
Why? Because -as we have already mentioned- they are “convenient” not only for our kitchen, but also for our health and the environment. This is exactly what functional foods are - ingredients that have the power to add flavor to our food, alone or in combination with other ingredients, benefit our body thanks to the valuable nutrients they contain and have been produced with respect for nature and the environment.
So, I mentioned above that these foods are a new trend in nutrition and cooking. Wrong…Going back in time and talking about the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, one can understand that this has been a well-known "trend" for years now, and experts have been suggesting it as a lifestyle. Well, this diet consists of the so-called functional foods which, when cooked properly - that is, without unnecessary fats - and consumed in the right amounts, can only do good to our body. So, what do you think? Shall we see what are the characteristics that rank an ingredient in the category of functional foods?
- They contain certain substances or have a specific characteristic that is beneficial to our body. Without a doubt, fruits and vegetables are functional foods (if produced naturally and consumed in season). There are, however, some categories of fruits and vegetables that stand out because of…their color, like for example purple fruits and vegetables! Due to their strong antioxidant action, they are a category of foods that’s worth experimenting with in the kitchen. In addition, another category worth mentioning is probiotics and prebiotics, for which you can learn more here, as well as plant sterols and stanols.
- They are versatile foods. What does that mean? They can add flavor to our recipes, while they are also valuable nutrients for our body. A typical example is nuts, herbs and spices, including...turmeric, but also seeds such as chia, flaxseed, etc.
- They are…environmentally friendly. What does that mean? That no harmful substances have been used for their production. Moreover, they have been grown by respecting the rhythms of nature and have traveled -relatively- short distances until they reach our plate. Here, you can find some more information about the foods that…love the planet.
- They are considered natural "superfoods" because they contain many nutrients that are beneficial to our body. Sardines, salmon, as well as legumes. Attention! The term "superfood" is used here simply to denote the multitude of nutrients with which these foods are "loaded".
Lots of information gathered here and you will definitely need some time to process them and choose the ones that best suit your needs and tastes. You have as much time as you want! The main requirement? While you are experimenting with your favorite foods, remember that no ingredient and no food alone can supply your body with all the necessary nutrients. Therefore, it is very important to consume these foods, as well as any foods you love, in moderation and always within a balanced diet which -of course- will be combined with a little exercise. This is - without a doubt - the most functional thing you can do :-)