Studies, which have been made in the past years, show that nowadays most of the food rich in vitamins and minerals is neglected at the expense of the consumption of larger quantities of food with high amound of calories. This is a premise for the functional food to become a significant part of the food industry.
Functional food is any food or food component, which can provide a healthful effect greater than that of regular food ingredients contained therein.¹
Healthful effect can mean reduction of body mass, or increase of the immune resistance of the organism, normalization of the biochemical indicator of the blood and lipid status, as well as the improvement of other parameters of the health condition of the individual. Therefore, functional foods have a specific, targeted application. They are not considered as medicine but as food products with specific use of one or more targeted functions. These functions are performed in the human body by a functionally active substance. This substance reduces the risk of various diseases or contributes in improving the state of the health condition in the human body. Active substances are amino acids, proteins, peptides, lipids, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides, vitamins, minerals, phenols, polyphenols, sterols, omega 3 fatty acids etc.
In the bakery and confectionery industries there are raw materials used such as whole grains, seeds from grain and oil cultures, fibers, inulin and other raw materials. Fibers are essential nutrient because of their numerous positive effects on human health, namely regulation of the intestines activity, balancing of the lipid metabolism, providing low Glycemic index and low calories value. The Inulin is a polysaccharide, which does not dissolve in the mouth, stomach or small intestine; almost unchanged in the large intestine it is modified by the endogenous bacteria. Therefore, the partial hidrolysis of inulin from the acid present in the gastric juice increases the viscosity of the consumed food, hence stays for longer time in the stomach and decreases the hunger. This leads to a lower amount of food needed for consumption.
Unlike dietary foods, functional foods are widespread, available and daily consumed. One of the main fundamental human rights is the access to diverse, safe, functional and healthy food. This is a prerequisite for a better health status and reduction of the risk for chronic diseases.
¹International Committee of food information; EU Regulation 1925/2006