St-Onge, M.P., 2005. Dietary fats, teas, dairy, and nuts: potential functional foods for weight control? Am J Clin Nutr. 81:7-15.
Functional foods are similar to conventional foods in appearance, but they have benefits that extend beyond their basic nutritional properties. For example, functional foods have been studied for the prevention of osteoporosis, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. They have yet to be related to the prevention of obesity, although obesity is one of the major health problems today. The inclusion of foods or the replacement of habitual foods with others that may enhance energy expenditure (EE) or improve satiety may be a practical way to maintain a stable body weight or assist in achieving weight loss; such foods may act as functional foods in body weight control. Some foods that might be classified as functional foods for weight control because of their effects on EE and appetite—including medium chain triacylglycerols, diacylglycerols, tea, milk, and nuts—are reviewed here. Only human studies reporting EE, appetite, or body weight are discussed. When studies of whole food items are unavailable, studies of nutraceuticals, the capsular equivalents of functional foods, are reviewed. To date, dietary fats seem to be most promising and have been the most extensively studied for their effects on body weight control. However, the weight loss observed is small and should be considered mostly as a measure to prevent weight gain. Carefully conducted clinical studies are needed to firmly ascertain the effect of tea, milk, and nuts on body weight maintenance, to assess their potential to assist in weight-loss efforts, and to ascertain dose-response relations and mechanisms of action for the 4 food types examined.