Cape Town - The coronavirus pandemic has created so much panic and anxiety and with the children back at school you want to do the best you can to keep them healthy.
So to help lighten your load, let’s start with how we can better prepare healthy meals for the children. Everyone knows there are bad foods out there, but similarly, there are simple nutritious brain foods that you should be serving up.
Registered dietitian and Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) spokesperson Zelda Ackerman says healthy food provides all the nutrients your child’s body needs to function optimally.
“One of the most important reasons why it is important to pack healthy foods for school break is that the foods will affect your child’s concentration and therefore his/her learning ability.
“Children’s blood sugar is greatly affected by what and how much they eat. Healthy foods, given in age-appropriate portions, help to keep blood sugar levels steady which helps children to concentrate, learn and perform optimally in sports activities. It also prevents irritability due to low blood sugar which can interfere with social interactions,” says Ackerman.
These are the foods that should be in your shopping basket for your kid’s lunch to give to them the right brain boost:
Eggs: Eat eggs in moderation. The protein and vitamins B, D, and E in eggs and egg yolks may help to improve memory. You can reap the benefits of these vitamins while keeping your cholesterol to a minimum by mixing whole eggs with egg whites to round out your omelet or scrambled eggs.
Avocados: The avocado is a relatively fatty fruit, but it’s mono-unsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow. Avocados also lower blood pressure, which is a benefit for brain health given that high blood pressure is a risk factor for declining cognitive abilities. Because avocados are high in calories, add just a quarter or half of one to a daily meal as a side dish.
Nuts: According to Healthline, a health portal, research has shown that eating nuts can improve markers of heart health, and having a healthy heart is linked to having a healthy brain.
A 2014 review on Cognition: the new frontier for nuts and berries showed that nuts can improve cognition and even help prevent neuro-degenerative diseases.
Also, another large study found that women who ate nuts regularly over the course of several years had a sharper memory, compared to those who didn’t eat nuts.
Several nutrients in nuts, such as healthy fats, antioxidants and vitamin E, may explain their brain-health benefits. Vitamin E shields cell membranes from free radical damage, helping slow mental decline.
While all nuts are good for your brain, walnuts may have an extra edge, since they also deliver omega-3 fatty acids.
Wholegrains: Wholegrains can reduce the risk of heart disease by promoting good blood flow to the organ system –which also includes the brain. They can also reduce inflammation of the brain, potentially preserving your memory.
Eating wholegrains is another way to benefit from the effects of vitamin E, with these grains being a good source of the vitamin.
Wholegrain foods include:
- Brown rice
- Bulgur wheat
- Wholegrain bread
- Wholegrain pasta
Berries: Flavonoids, the natural plant pigments that give berries their brilliant hues, also help improve memory, research shows. In a 2012 study published in Annals of Neurology, researchers at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week delayed memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years.
Vegetables: Increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts which are high in vitamin K and glucosinolates, have an antioxidant effect and may help improve memory.
Fish: A protein source linked to a great brain boost is fish – rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are key for brain health. These healthy fats have amazing brain power: A diet with higher levels of them has been linked to lower dementia and stroke risks and slower mental decline, plus they may play a vital role in enhancing memory, especially as we get older.
Including these foods in your kid’s lunch might seem a bit daunting at first but it doesn’t have to be if you start small. Adding these brain foods to your children’s diet shouldn’t be more homework for moms and dads but make your lives easier and your kid’s life healthier.
Below are two recipes supplied by Sasko which your child can help you prepare.
Avo, Brie and walnut sandwich
2 slices SASKO LOW GI CRANBERRY BROWN BREAD
125g brie cheese (at room temperature)
20g walnuts (crushed)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil and balsamic reduction (if desired)
Lightly toast the SASKO LOW GI CRANBERRY BROWN BREAD slices before spreading each with a little butter.
Top with slices of Brie cheese, followed by slices of avocado, a sprinkling of walnuts and a little rocket.
Season with salt and pepper and, if you’re feeling decadent, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic glaze.
Boiled egg and biltong sandwich
2 slices of SASKO LOW GI SMOOTH ANCIENT GRAIN BROWN BREAD
1 omega-3 enriched egg, boiled and chopped
15g biltong shavings
1 tbs spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp (10 ml) mayonnaise
Mix the chopped egg, biltong shavings, spring onions and mayonnaise together.
Spread on to bread.
Close the sandwich with the second slice of bread.