A rational definition for functional foods: A perspective

Norman J. Temple

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Many foods are described as “functional foods”. However, the term is poorly defined. A commonly used definition is that they contain substances that have positive effects on health “beyond basic nutrition”. However, there are several problems with this definition. In many cases, healthy foods are included under the term functional foods. A new definition is proposed as follows. Functional foods are novel foods that have been formulated so that they contain substances or live microorganisms that have a possible health-enhancing or disease-preventing value, and at a concentration that is both safe and sufficiently high to achieve the intended benefit. The added ingredients may include nutrients, dietary fiber, phytochemicals, other substances, or probiotics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number957516
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep. 2022


  • beyond basic nutrition
  • functional foods
  • healthy foods
  • novel foods
  • phytochemicals


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