Tags: Featured Story, Food & Home, Parenting
Kids get sick often, and although colds and tummy bugs are a part of childhood, keeping their bodies strong with a healthy diet can give them an edge against the germs they encounter in everyday life. Here are six superfoods to add into your meal repertoire along with kid-friendly serving suggestions.
This one isn’t a hard sell with kids. Berries are bursting with bioflavonoids, the plant chemicals that help to activate the immune system and work as antioxidants to prevent cell damage. And all berries are good for you, one cup of strawberries contains the same amount of Vitamin C as a cup of OJ. Best of all, it's been proven that frozen blueberries retain all of the good vitamins and chemicals, so you can benefit all winter long. Add berries to cereal, smoothies or yogurt.
Yogurt that has “live or active cultures” (listed on the label) offers probiotics which have been shown to reduce inflammation, which is implicated in viral and gut issues. The other immunity boosting properties of yogurt are due to magnesium, selenium, Vitamin D and zinc. The healthiest yogurt is the plain, unsweetened type with active cultures. Mix in a berry such as blueberries to sweeten plain yogurt, or try a commercial brand with probiotics such as Activia.
NUTS & SEEDS
Nuts are powerhouse foods. Almonds, for example, contain Vitamin E, an antioxidant which helps to fight off infection. Nuts and seeds are not only yummy, they offer an array of phytochemicals and minerals. Nuts have different nutritional profiles, so consume a variety to give your body what it needs. Nuts are great as a yogurt topper or just for snacking.
Sweet potatoes are worthy of the dinner table year-round with the numerous health benefits. Their bright color comes from carotenoids, which is an antioxidant. Just one sweet potato contains 400 percent of the daily requirement of Vitamin A as well as Vitamins B, C and D, plus many good-for-you minerals. To get your kids to eat this goodness, try serving a baked sweet potato with butter and brown sugar instead of a regular baked potato or have mashed sweet potatoes as a side dish.
RED BELL PEPPERS
These brightly colored veggies taste sweeter than their green counterparts making these more palatable for kids, plus they contain three times more vitamin C than oranges. Vitamin C is thought to boost white cell production- the cells that fight infection. Red bell peppers also pack a healthy amount of beta carotene which is good for eye health. Serve raw with a dip or sauted in a stir fry.
Mom was right, broccoli is good for you. Broccoli contains Vitamin C,B D, E and K as well as folate. More importantly, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates which protect cells from DNA damage and have been shown to have anti bacterial, antiviral and even anticancer effects. Other vegetables in this family include cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, arugula, brussel sprouts, kale, radish and turnips. Try enticing kids with raw broccoli or cauliflower served with a yummy dip or steam it and top with cheese. Roasting vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts bring out the sweet flavor and tones down the bitterness of cruciferous veggies.