Blueberries aren't just a delicious easy-pack snack. A 2013 study from Oregon State University shows that the compound pterostilbene, found in blueberries, could have a positive effect on the body's immune system when combined with vitamin D. One mom we know calls these tasty berries "nature's little blue pills."
Recent research shows that eating just 3 ounces of almonds a day (with the skin on) can boost immunity and protect from viruses. Eat them plain or try dark chocolate- or yogurt-covered almonds.
Note: Dr. Hes points out that children under the age of 3 cannot have nuts or seeds because they are choking hazards. She recommends almond butter for children over the age of 1.
Foods containing high levels of soluble fiber, like apricots, are a smart snack choice for kids. "Soluble fiber changes the personality of immune cells — they go from being pro-inflammatory, angry cells to anti-inflammatory, healing cells that help us recover faster from infection," said Gregory Freund, a professor in the University of Illinois College of Medicine and a faculty member in the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences' Division of Nutritional Sciences. Combine dried apricots with nuts and your child's favorite dry cereal for a quick and easy snack mix.
Steel cut oats are a filling breakfast treat and they also taste great when baked into homemade oat bars. Research conducted by Jonathan Reichner of Brown University found that the beta-glucan in steel cut oats may significantly enhance the human immune system's response to bacterial infection.
Long lauded for their laxative effect, flax seeds have recently become revered for their omega-3 fatty acid and shown to have a beneficial effect on everything from heart health to weight loss to germ fighting. Kids will gobble up these gluten-free berry and flaxseed frozen yogurt parfaits.
Crack into a pomegranate and treat the kids to a blast of antioxidants. Pomegranate seeds taste great by themselves or you can toss them into Greek yogurt to add a burst of texture and flavor.
Dr. Dyan Hes, recently named a 2013 top doctor by NEW YORK magazine, is the Medical Director of Gramercy Pediatrics in New York City and sits on the board of the American Board of Obesity Medicine.
Immune-boosting tip: Help support your kids' natural defense systems with the #1 pediatrician recommended brand Culturelle Kids Probiotic Kids Packets or Chewables.
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