In today’s era of pandemic, antioxidants have become a vital marketing tool, as most of the food companies claim for the presence of antioxidants in their products that boost up immunity and fight infections. Before going any further we should know, what are antioxidants, foods with antioxidants and how it works? (What are some Ayurvedic herbs for immunity?)
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What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are compounds produced in your body or naturally found in some foods that scavenge or neutralize the effects of cell damage by potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that are naturally formed when you breathe or when your body converts food into energy. There are also some environmental sources that cause free radicals like air pollution and sunlight. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which is a process that is responsible for cell damage. In simple words, when any object oxidizes; it becomes bad, over ripe, aging, and reduces nutrients.
Fortunately eating a diet rich in antioxidants or antioxidant rich foods help to fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Some examples of antioxidants are: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Beta carotene, Lycopene, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Manganese, Polyphenols. Evidence suggests that antioxidants supplements do not work as good as naturally occurring antioxidant rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. We need to consume almost 10,000 units of antioxidants in a day. It is smart to choose your meals in a way that your ‘nutrition and antioxidant’ content is met and you can be at your healthiest. Antioxidant is measured by using ORAC units (Oxygen Radicals Absorbance capacity). Below is a list of top most antioxidant rich foods available in India.
Also check, Kids favourite antioxidant recipe
foods with antioxidants
Some of the antioxidants rich fruits and vegetables, and other foods in India include:
When it comes to antioxidants, walnuts are the leader among other nuts. They have an ORAC value of about 6000 per ½ cup. Walnuts are rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, compounds that communicate with free radicals and prevent them from doing cell damage and help the kid’s body to get rid of toxic substances. Walnuts are super foods for kids as they are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc and selenium, all of these promote the optimal growth of kids. So next time when your child is craving something between meals, offer a handful of walnuts.
Also check, Best foods for cognition in kids
Raisins are dried grapes and have a high antioxidant level and phenol contents as compared to other dried fruits. It has an ORAC value of about 2830 per100 grams. Raisins are a food source of antioxidants called flavonol glycosides and phenolic acids which are bioavailable (the body consumes them easily). Raisins are also a good source of vitamin C, selenium and zinc, all these nutrients and antioxidants result in a healthy body and glowing skin.
Also check, Best foods for weight gain in kids?
Apple is one of the best antioxidant foods in India. It contains a variety of strong antioxidants like quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, all of them help us to fight against many chronic diseases. The ORAC value is 3000 per piece of apple with skin. Apples are also rich in vitamin C, fiber and potassium and low in fat, which reduces the risk of obesity. (Best recipe to hide fruits and feed kids?)
It not only contain a good amount of vitamin C but also a potent source of antioxidants including flavonoids and carotenoids in addition to other beneficial phytochemicals, such as folate. Oranges are low calorie and highly nutritious fruit, only a piece of orange has 2000 ORAC units. Oranges are best for your child, to meet the daily requirement of vitamin C and is among the best antioxidant rich foods. (Foods to build immunity in kids?)
Dark chocolate is not only kids favorite but also one of the antioxidant rich foods. It is loaded with antioxidants called flavonoid and polyphenols which help to fight and repair cell damage. The antioxidants in dark chocolate can also help to reduce roughness of your skin and protect it against sun damage. Dark chocolate is rich in cocoa which is loaded with zinc, iron, copper, and vitamins like A, B12 and K. It relaxes arteries and increases blood circulation. (Easy nutritious chocolate cookie for kids with hidden herbs and nuts)
Kidney beans are rich in polyphenols which is a powerful antioxidant and can help to protect the body from diseases. These beans are an affordable source of protein, iron, fiber, folate and vitamins B1. Kidney beans contain higher amounts of omega3 fatty acids as compared to other beans, which are important for brain’s growth and function.
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Beetroot are one of the natural antioxidant rich foods that helps in enhancing your kid’s immune system. They are rich in vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E and minerals like iron, magnesium, which help to prevent several diseases, especially diarrhea which is most common in kids. It also has an anti-inflammatory compound called betalain, which helps to protect the liver from oxidative damage and inflammation.
Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric that offers therapeutic relief. It is a very strong antioxidant which supports body against cell damage. It has been found to delay or reverse diseases or age related diseases in body functions. Half tsp of turmeric powder has 3000 ORAC units. Turmeric is also rich in vitamin A, Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2) and vitamin C and works as a perfect immunity booster food for kids as well as adults and considered as one of the super foods for kids.
Oregano is the herb rich in antioxidants like tryptophan, lysine, valine, vitamin C, vitamin A and E. The antioxidants thymol, carvacrol, limonene, terpinene, ocimine and carryophyllene give this herb its flavor and smell. These antioxidants contribute to boosting overall health. ½ tsp of dried oregano has 4000 ORAC units. It is also rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, folate and fiber all of which contributes to a healthy body. So never forget to add some oregano on your kid’s pizza or pasta.
Ginger is rich in antioxidants which helps the body to fight off chronic diseases and promotes healthy living. As per numerous studies, ginger is effective to fight infection and inflammation. Ginger root contains powerful compounds, including gingerols and shogaols that help to inhibit inflammation and protect against cellular damage. They also tend to protect the liver against toxins. Known for its amazing medicinal properties, ginger has been used as an active ingredient in many Ayurvedic medicines. Loaded with Vitamin B6 and magnesium, it also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory property, which helps in fighting infections.
Recipe for Colourful Paratha (Tortillas)– Beetroot and Moringa with Herbs and Nuts
Let’s try to make every food a child wants to eat more tasty and nutritious with (hidden) veggies, herbs and nuts.
Kids LOVE the colours!!
- 1 small beetroot (for pink)
- 4 tbsp Moringa powder (for green)
- 4 tbsp Iyurved’s daily dal and veggies powder (order)
- 2 cups whole wheat flour or jowar (sorghum flour)
- 3 tbsp Psyllium husk
- Carrom seeds (optional)
- 1 tsp Nutritional yeast (optional)
If you don’t have moringa powder, take any leaf- spinach or kale, steam it lightly without water and puree well. Don’t add extra water. Add flour to this puree to make green dough, along with other ingredients.
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