Every parent wants to protect their kids from winter illnesses, and one easily obtainable food type that’s probably not been considered as a way to help is berries. According to new research, these tasty and powerful small fruits have been shown to improve immunity and help manage viral infections.
If you have kids, there is a good chance that if they become ill, and there is a very good chance you will catch what they have, too. Children experience around five to eight colds a year, compared with adults, who typically get about two to three colds a year, with the most common time of the year being the winter months.
The primary reason why children are more inclined to become ill is they have not yet built up sufficient immunity. With a plethora of colds and viral infections in the air, now is the time to turn to berries and enjoy their great taste and special protective properties.
A study published in the Clinical Nutrition ESPEN journal concluded that Vitamin C-rich berries provide a range of polyphenols, including anthocyanins, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. Polyphenols are known to have antimicrobial properties, as well as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions.
The study authors explain that berries such as blueberries and raspberries have proven efficacy against certain viral infections. Since berries contain a range of antiviral components, this makes them an ideal ‘go-to’ food during this time of year, particularly for children.
Other new research published in Advances in Nutrition journal concludes that it is not any one single compound that appears to exert such positive effects, but rather the combined effects of the phenolic and nonphenolic compounds found in berries.
These findings indicate that mixing the type of berries eaten from day-to-day – for example, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries – could help people, including children, get the most benefit.
Dr Emma Derbyshire, Public Health Nutritionist and adviser to British Berry Growers, commented, “Winter is upon us, bringing with it a flurry of colds and viruses. Children tend to be particularly susceptible as their immunity is only just starting to build, and they typically learn and play in close circles.
“Incorporating fresh fruits into their diets, such as berries, is a great way to boost children’s vitamin C intake and benefit from the antimicrobial and anti-viral properties that berries are increasingly becoming known for.”
Note: For babies with a family history of food allergies or asthma, or mild eczema, they can try berries, provided that more common foods can be tolerated first. When young children are just starting solid foods, do not serve whole, raw berries, which could be a choking hazard. Instead, slide berries as snacks or as lunchbox treats. Serve babies cooked, pureed berries with nothing else added.
Two Delicious Kids’ Recipes by Love Fresh Berries
Strawberry Yoghurt Jelly Pots
Strawberry Jelly Pots are very easy to make. They are a simple twist on plain old jelly and are made super-delicious by adding in some fruit and yoghurt, resulting in a nutritious snack or kids’ lunch.
Makes 4 Prep time 10 minutes plus setting time
- 11.5g pack of sugar-free jelly, strawberry or raspberry flavour
- 200g strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
- 100g natural yoghurt or milk
- A handful of blueberries or raspberries
- Dissolve the jelly crystals in 285ml/1/2 pint hot water from the kettle, stirring until completely dissolved. Leave to cool for 15 minutes.
- Blitz the strawberries to a puree in a blender or mash them by hand. Mix with the yoghurt and stir into the cooled jelly. Pour into small lidded pots or jelly moulds. And remember to pop some berries into the pots before chilling until set.
You can make these up to two days beforehand.
Honeyed Berry Oat Pot
To make things as easy as possible, prep the components of this breakfast the previous night, which makes things super simple when time is at a premium.
This vegetarian recipe is enough for two servings, and the preparation time is around ten minutes, plus soaking.
- 250g mixed blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
- 1 tbsp honey or to taste
- 1/2 tsp orange zest (optional)
- 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
- 100g porridge oats
- 200ml milk, plant-based or dairy
- Place the berries, honey and orange zest (if using) and a splash of water in a small pan and simmer gently for 5 minutes until the fruits have released their juices. Set aside to cool, cover and chill until required.
- Toast the coconut in a small pan or frying pan over low heat for a few minutes until it is golden – ensure that you keep it moving around the pan so that it browns evenly.
- Reserve a tsp and mix the rest with the oats in a lidded container. Cover with the milk, stir to mix and leave to soak for 20 minutes or cover and chill until required – as long as two days.
- To serve, spoon out the oats and then top it with the berries and the reserved coconut.
The cooked berries will keep covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. Soak oats the night before so they will be ready for a quick getaway in the morning. Toasted coconut keeps fresh in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2022) Common cold: How common is it? Available at: https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/common-cold/background-information/prevalence/ (accessed 18th December 2022)
- NHS (2021) Colds, coughs and ear infections in children. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/health/colds-coughs-and-ear-infections-in-children/ (accessed 18th December 2022)
- Shahagadkar P et al. (2021) Berry derived constituents in suppressing viral infection: Potential avenues for viral pandemic management. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN, 14-20. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2405457721010536
- Lavefve LF et al. (2022) The Effects of Blueberry Phytochemicals on Cell Models of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress. Adv Nutr 13(4):1279-1309
- BabyCenter (2022) When can babies have berries? Available at: https://www.babycenter.com/baby/solids-finger-foods/when-can-my-baby-eat-berries_1368508 (accessed 18th December 2022)
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