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Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2011 Oct;18(5):332-5. doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e32834abab7.

Functional foods and cardiovascular disease risk: building the evidence base.

Author information

  • Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA. llmoore@bu.edu



To review the concept of functional foods and to summarize recent evidence on functional foods and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.


Recent studies have examined the use of antioxidant vitamins and found no support for a beneficial effect on CVD risk, lipid levels or blood pressure. The evolving data also provide little support for a cardioprotective effect of soy protein. The role of soluble fiber in cardiovascular health has been of interest for many years and new studies support important beneficial effects on lipids as well as total CVD risk. In addition, the benefits of fish intake and nut consumption have been recently affirmed. Two promising areas of investigation from a functional food perspective are studies of phytosterols and milk-derived tripeptides. Plant stanol esters have been shown to have strong lipid-lowering effects, whereas milk-derived tripeptides directly benefited blood pressure.


The functional food market has grown exponentially in recent years. Our understanding of the health benefits of foods and nutrients is continually evolving. Careful attention to the strength of the scientific evidence will help to ensure that it is used appropriately to guide the development of the next generation of health-promoting functional foods.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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