Feeding children both healthy and tasty food can be a challenge. Over the years I have become quite skillful in hiding nutritious ingredients in the food when I cook. Luckily my children are older and it is easier to give them healthy foods.
There are plenty of so called superfoods that are very tasty at the same time as they provide a wide array of nourishing nutrients. I like to include many of these as often as I can. Smoothies, protein shakes or fresh juices are just some ways which they can used in. Some are yummy enough to enjoy on the own. There are plenty of them but I will focus on some that are easy to give children.
These berries were neglected for the longest time by scientists because they didn't have a high enough amount of vitamin C. Today we know that blueberries are truly a superfood with many nutrients. They are very small, but they contain more disease fighting antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable. They have been called "brain berries", and "youth berries". One serving of blue berries contain just as many antioxidants as five servings of apples, broccoli, squash and carrots. 2/3 of a cup of blue berries provide 1,733 IU of vitamin E, and more protection that 1,200 mg of vitamin C.
Blue berries have very high levels of antioxidant phytonutrients, especially the flavonoid family "anthocyanin". Anthocyanin is responsible for the intense blue-purple color, and the darker the berry, the more anthocyanin content.
Blue berries have at least five different anthocyanins, especially in the wild berries, and they are located in the skin like in other fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are concentrated to the skin so that they can protect fruit from the sun and other harmful assaults. Anthocyanins are the key players in neutralizing free radical damage. They also possess anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants play a big role in preventing diabetes, cardivascular disease, cancer and many other conditions.
Anthocyanins work in synergy with other antioxidants like vitamin C. They strengthen the capillary system by promoting the production of collagen, which are the building blocks of tissues.
A study was performed at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Aging rats were given the equivalent of 1/2 to 1 cup of blueberries, a pint of strawberries, or one large spinach salad. The blueberry group performed better than the other groups on brain teasers. They also showed improvements in balance and coordination. A promising result since it previously was not thought that degeneration due to aging was reversible. The brain cells seemed to communicate better, their brains seemed to have fewer damaged proteins, and their brains developed new brain cells.
Other studies on humans have showed that people who eat a cup of blueberries a day performed 5-6 % better on motor skill tests. Positive results have been seen on people with multiple sclerosis as well. Blueberries have an affinity for the areas of the brain that controls movement. It seems to me that growing children can benefit as well by eating blueberries in order to nourish the brain.
I like to add blueberries to our protein shake, or use them in my own syrup I make, and my children also like to eat them the way the are. When it is colder outside I like to make a blueberry soup, which is a Swedish tradition.
Nutrients in blueberries are:
- salicylic acid
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
- polyphenols (anthocyanins, quercetin, ellagic acid, catechins)
I miss walking in the woods in Sweden picking my own wild blueberries. However, when I can't get fresh blueberries I buy the Wild Blueberry brand. The are wild blueberries picked in Maine and Canada, and I have been able to find them at Whole Foods.
Here are some more info from the company website.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Johanna is an aromatherapist and she is passionate about educating people about health, essential oils, real food, natural remedies, and nutrition so they make healthier choices in their lives.
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