By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kids Nutrition Specialist
The peak of cold and flu season is upon us, and as recently explained antibiotics are not always helpful for getting rid colds. The best option is to focus on prevention and keep kids immune systems strong to enhance their own ability to fight off infections. This will be the first of several posts taking an in depth look at immunity.
Kids eating habit are fickle and can be even more so when they are feeling under the weather. There are some foods that pack a great deal of nutrients in small amounts which is perfect for little ones. Here are 6 immune boosting foods for kids:
1. Berries: blue berries, black berries, or strawberries provide a concentrated amount of the much needed vitamin C during winter months. Vitamin C helps increase the production of infection fighting white blood cells. In addition, berries contain a wealth of tissue protecting antioxidants.
Try: mixing frozen berries with your choice of milk or yogurt into a smoothie
2. Almonds: almonds provide an excellent source of vitamin E; a nutrient not a popular as vitamin C but equally important to the immune system. Vitamin E also enhances the production of a variety of immune cells that help the body seek and destroy cold producing bugs.
Try: Swapping peanut butter for almond butter instead
3. Carrots: the bright orange color of carrots indicates the wealth of beta carotene, another super nutrient for increasing your bodys army against invaders. Beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, is only one member of the large family of carotenoids, which is why the body best uses beta carotene from food sources because natures immune fighting combination is already there.
Try: Baby carrots sticks dipped in salad dressing for a snack
5. Pumpkin seeds: the highest vegetarian source of zinc, pumpkin seeds pack a lot of nutrients into such a small food. Zinc also helps the body fight infections as well as reducing the duration of a cold. It is best to get from food, especially for kids, and if you do eat meat try lean turkey or steak in addition to fortified cereals.
Try: adding pumpkin seeds to homemade trail mix or granola