If you read the labels of the higher priced brands of pet food(as I encourage you to do) , you will see ingredients like blueberries or cranberries or flax seed and other recognizable people food. At first glance, that just makes no sense. Cats eat meat in the wild. They are carnivores. And maybe you pass these food by thinking my cat shouldn't eat a food with fruit or seeds added.
But wait! Lets take a step back, and talk about functional foods for a bit. Functional foods are beneficial nutritional ingredients that have a positive effect on the body at a cellular level and may help to prevent, manage, or even reverse a variety of chronic diseases. -or in simple terms "foods with a function". Many of these functional foods contain phytonutrients. Carotenoids, which include alpha-carotene and beta-carotine, are probably the most widely known class of phytonutrients. Blueberries are high in phytochemicals called flavinoids which are anitoxidants. Antioxidants are important in helping the body handle environmental toxins, help protect against heart disease and cancer. The fiber in fresh fruits and vegetables also helps promote optimal GI functioning and weight loss.
There is a new scientific field called nutrigenomics, which is the science of how the foods that we eat affect the body at cellular level (at our epigenome) which in turn alters our genetic predisposition toward health or disease. To me, this almost sounds like science fiction! I just finished reading a book called Canine Nutrigenomics, The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health by Dr. W Jean Dodds, DVM., If you are a science nerd like I am, you will enjoy this book. She discusses functional foods for pets with specific medical conditions like arthritis and obesity. A good read!
A functional food that I add to my pets diet is fish oil. Omega-3 fatty acids
are heat sensitive and so should be added just before feeding time. A
fish oil fatty acid supplement has so many benefits for health so if
there is one functional food supplement that you give to your pet
regularly, let it be this one!
A list of functional foods, besides blueberries and fish oil includes: coconut oil, tumeric, milk thistle, pomegranates, probiotics and spirulina.