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Four ‘functional foods’ worth trying 5/12
(This article is adapted from the May 2012 Consumer Reports OnHealth newsletter.)

Some food that has been fortified, enhanced, or enriched to provide additional health benefits can costs a lot more than regular food. Is it worth the price? The answer is: Sometimes.

Here are four examples to help guide your choices.

1. Heart-healthy orange juice

Food that is fortified with at least 400 milligrams per serving of plant sterols -- natural substances in fruits and vegetables that may help reduce the risk of heart disease -- might help your heart, but only if it’s consumed twice daily with meals, according to the FDA. And you’d have to drink 8 ounces of orange juice a day for the health benefit to kick in!

Worth it? Yes. But check labels to make sure any juice you choose provides at least 400 mg of plant sterols per serving.
2. High-fiber cereals

A high-fiber diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. And U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend adults get 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories they consumer per day.

A bran cereal that provides 10 percent of the daily fiber requirement per serving is considered a good source of fiber; one that offers 20 percent or more is an excellent.

Worth it? Possibly. Any bran cereal offering at least 10 percent of the daily amount of fiber per serving may help you maintain a healthy weight.
3. Omega-3 enriched eggs

The diet of a typical laying hen results in a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which ends up in the yolk, says Mitch Kanter, Ph.D., executive director of the Egg Nutrition Center. Egg producers who make claims such as “Now with 50 mg of omega-3 fatty acids” are giving the hens feed that is higher in omega-3s.

“ One egg isn’t going to give you enough omega-3 to make a difference, but as part of a regular diet, eggs are a good, natural way to fortify your diet with omega-3s,” says Kanter.

Worth it? Maybe, depending on the amount of omega-3s that you get from other foods. Salmon and tuna are better sources of omega-3s.
4. Whole-grain bread and pasta

Consuming more whole grains may lower your risk of coronary heart disease and some cancers, along with reducing the risk of stroke and type 2 diabetes. This advice holds true only when the whole grains are eaten intact.

With pasta, the more the grain has been processed, the fewer health benefits you’ll receive, even if it says “whole grain” on the package.

Worth it? Possibly. Make sure the first ingredient listed on the nutrition-facts label says “whole grain.”
Related links

Is fortified food really good for you? 5/12

Are organic eggs worth the price? 4/12

The scoop on vitamins and supplements. 3/12

Food, supplement, or drug? 7/11

Healthy bread: white is the new brown. 6/11

25 healthy and nutritious food bargains. 3/11

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