Foods as Medicine

A 1We know that food provides us with nutrition and vitamins. 2Scientists are now studying and testing claims that certain foods, called “functional foods,” may also help to reduce the risk of disease if they are eaten regularly.

B 3One group of functional foods is fruits and vegetables. 4Scientists have found that tomatoes and broccoli contain natural chemicals that may help to fight disease.

C 5Another group of functional foods is whole grains, like oat bran. 6However, most people don’t eat oat bran by itself. 7Instead, oat bran is put into products such as oatmeal and certain breads and muffins. 8Scientists have found strong evidence that eating oat bran can lower cholesterol. 9Doctors have linked high levels of cholesterol to heart disease.

D 10In 1997, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) gave the Quaker Oats Company the first officially approved health claim for a food. 11The FDA allowed the company to label its products with the health claim that eating oat bran lowers cholesterol. 12The FDA approves only health claims that have research to support them.

E 13Fortified foods have added vitamins and minerals. 14This idea started in 1830 when a chemist discovered that adding iodine to salt prevented an enlarged thyroid gland, or goiter. 15The newest trend in fortified foods is adding herbs. 16Food companies have started making claims that these herbs will improve your health and even prevent disease. 17Tea with added ginseng says it gives you “a positive energy boost.” 18Soup with echinacea claims to “fortify the immune system.” 19Are these claims facts or opinions?

F 20Many people believe herbs improve health and prevent disease. 21However, most herbs have never been tested to find out if this is true. 22There are no standards for products that contain herbs. 23Nor is there evidence to prove their claims as food additives.

G 24Functional foods may prove to be of great benefit to people. 25However, it is important to look for evidence of testing before believing what the product says. 26Not all health claims may be facts.