Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Health Benefits of Antioxidants

Are you tired of hearing your child’s pediatrician or dietitian preach about increasing fruits and vegetables? Replacing refined carbohydrates with whole grains? Why not just give them a multivitamin? Perhaps you don’t eat fruits and vegetables and do not buy whole grain pasta or bread products. Are you thinking that the idea of making changes in your family’s eating habits is too much to handle right now? Besides, aren’t fruits and vegetables more expensive? Well, read on and learn!

Cardiovascular disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in the United States. The cost for treatment of these diseases can put families in dept due to medical costs. Antioxidants, which are abundant in fruit, vegetables and whole grains, have been shown to reduce risks related to these diseases.

Is it worth paying an extra penny to include more of these foods in your diet? The answer is YES!

Food sources high in antioxidants:
  • Vitamin C: Broccoli, oranges, watermelon, red bell peppers, kiwi, mango, pineapple, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes
  • Vitamin E (easily destroyed by heat): Vegetable oil, salad dressing, seeds, nuts,  and peanut butter
  • Beta-Carotene: Apricots, broccoli, pumpkin, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots
  • Flavonoids: Whole grains, berries, black tea, celery, citrus fruits, green tea, olives, onion, oregano, purple grapes, purple grape juice, soybeans, and vegetables
Tips to include more antioxidants in your child's diet:
  • Make it a habit to include fruit with your child’s breakfast, give them a choice between different fruits to increase acceptance.
  • Although fresh is best, if you find that fruits and vegetables age quickly in your home before use, buy canned or frozen instead to avoid waste.
  • Always include a vegetable with lunch and dinner, even if your child chooses not to eat it. Someday, they will surprise you! If they are never offered these foods, they will likely not choose them as they grow and become more independent…so start now!!!
  • Pasta sauce is a good source of antioxidants, dip bread sticks and pour onto meats/vegetables.
  • Do not spend an arm and leg on supplements, spend it on food, whole food!! Your child is worth it!
About our Expert: Shannon Burkett, RD, LD, dietician at Dayton Children's

Shannon is a gradute of Purdue University with a BA in elementary education and a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago with a DPD Dietetics and Nutrition.  She completed a dietetic internship at Miami Valley Hospital and worked at WIC and long term care before coming to Dayton Children's. Shannon has worked with the Hematology and Oncology population at Dayton Children's for two years.  She also has certificate in childhood and adolescent weight management through the American Dietetic Association. Her favorite hobby is cooking.  She loves trying new recipes and creating meals from scratch. She says, "There is just something that is so rewarding about eating a delicious healthy meal that I have created, without using prepacked, processed foods. It’s both good for my body and my family's health!"

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