Functional food, made in Greece

Lefteris Lachouvaris and Thanassis Mastrogiannis, co-founders of Dirfis Mushrooms, are in the final stretch of launching a new snack food made of oyster mushrooms, which, among their other benefits, are an excellent source of vitamin D.

How about a snack that's just as delicious but way healthier than the usual greasy potato chip when you're desperate for a quick nibble? Or a glass of milk containing a higher concentration of melatonin instead of a pill when you're tossing and turning in your bed?

New dietary choices are increasingly becoming part of our lives in the form of so-called "functional foods" that bolster health and well-being - that is foods that are modified to add or reduce a specific component.

"Nutrition is always a priority and a lot of labs have turned to this area in recent years," says George Zervakis, a professor at the Agricultural University of Athens and head of its Laboratory of Foods Microbiology and Biotechnology. The idea of functional foods began in Japan in 1984 in an effort by the country's Health Ministry to reduce the cost of care for its rapidly aging population. It...

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