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How Tomatoes Can Support Kids’ Immune Systems

benefits of tomatoes

Balanced eating is key for growing kids. From their ability to boost immunity to supporting strong bones and healthy skin, tomatoes have a lot to offer.

Nutritional profile of tomatoes

Tomatoes, botanically known as Solanum lycopersicum are a good source of phytochemicals and nutrients such as:

  • Lycopene
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Folate
  • Vitamin C
  • Beta-carotene
  • Flavonoids
  • Hydroxycinnamic acid
  • Chlorogenic,
  • Homovanillic acid
  • Ferulic acid

Tomatoes offer a range of health benefits. Its nutritional content supports healthful skin, weight loss, and heart health.

100 grams of raw tomatoes contains:

  • 18 calories (kcal)
  • 9 grams of protein
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 89 grams of carbohydrate
  • 2 grams of fat
  • 6 grams of sugar
  • 0 g cholesterol

Mineral content:

  • 10 mg of calcium
  • 237 mg of potassium
  • 5 mg of sodium
  • 24 mg of phosphorus
  • 27 mg of iron
  • 114 mg of manganese
  • 11 mg of magnesium
  • 17 mg of zinc
  • 059 mg of copper

Antioxidants and vitamins:

  • Lycopene <14.6 mg
  • Beta-carotene < 1.1 mg
  • Vitamin C < 21 mg
  • Phenolic acid < 4.9 mg
  • Phytoene < 1.3 mg
  • Lutein < 0.3 mg
  • Flavonoids < 8.2 mg
  • Phytofluene < 1.2 mg
  • Vitamin E < 1.8 mg

Also read : Teaching Kids About Leafy Greens and Their Iron Content

Role of Tomatoes in Immune System Support

Tomatoes are full of the following antioxidants that help make kids’ immune systems strong.

1) Vitamin C

A sufficient intake of Vitamin C actively supports the immune system. Vitamin C helps :

  • Boost white blood cell production
  • Act as an antioxidant reinforcing immunity
  • Enhances the skin’s defence system
  • formation of collagen for skin strength

2) Lycopene

Lycopene in tomatoes is a strong antioxidant. Studies show it makes your immune system better by helping special cells called “natural killer (NK) cells” fight viruses and cancer. This makes it a potent defence against illnesses.

3) Vitamin E

The presence of Vitamin E in tomatoes helps improve immune response substantially. Vitamin E in tomatoes helps boost cell-mediated immunity, especially in older people. This type of immunity activates special immune cells and releases helpful substances when there is a threat.

4) Vitamin A:

Referred to as ‘retinol’, plays a crucial role in

  • Enhancing immune functions
  • Synthesising red blood cells
  • Maintaining good vision

Vitamin A aids in:

  • Health and functionality of our skin
  • Health of the mucous membranes in our lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and other parts of the body.
  • Production and function of white blood cells
  • Regulates cellular immune responses
  • Facilitates anti-inflammatory functions in humans offering protection against various infections and diseases.

Also read : Healthy Lunchbox Ideas: Nutritionally-balanced, kid-friendly meals.

Incorporating tomatoes into the diet

Tomatoes are a fantastic ingredient to include in a myriad of children’s recipes. Here are some simple and healthy recipes that feature this nutritious fruit:

  1. Tomato Pasta: Cook pasta, sauté fresh tomatoes and garlic in olive oil. Toss them together with fresh basil.
  2. Tomato Soup: Simmer fresh garden tomatoes, onions, carrots, and herbs. Blend until smooth and serve with crusty bread.
  3. Tomato Omelette: Create a hearty breakfast by mixing eggs, tomatoes, cheese, and veggies for a cheerful morning dish.
  4. Tomato Rice: For a healthy and tasty kids’ lunch, cook rice with tomatoes, onions, and green peas.
  5. Stuffed Tomatoes: Hollow out tomatoes and fill them with a delicious potato mixture for a tasty treat.
  6. Tomato Salsa: Serve this versatile side dish with homemade chips, perfect for parties and family gatherings.
  7. Margherita Pizza: Use fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil to make a simple yet delightful pizza.
  8. Tomato and Cheese Panini: Whip up a quick and satisfying sandwich with juicy tomatoes and melted cheese.
  9. Tomato Quesadilla: Kids will love these quesadillas filled with fresh tomatoes, and cheddar cheese, and wrapped in tortillas for a tasty and easy dinner.
  10. Tomato Skewers: Make vibrant and delicious skewers by putting together cherry tomatoes, cheese, and olives.
  11. Tomato Mac ‘n’ Cheese: Cook macaroni and mix in diced tomatoes and shredded cheese until creamy and delicious.
  12. Tomato and Avocado Salad: Mix ripe tomatoes and creamy avocado chunks. Top it with a tangy lemon dressing as a side dish.
  13. Tomato Ketchup: Make homemade ketchup to have better control over the added sugar in your child’s meals.
  14. Tomato Bruschetta: This Italian classic is an easy and delicious snack option that ensures kids get a healthy dose of tomatoes.
  15. Tomato and Cucumber Sandwich: A super refreshing sandwich, ideal for summer picnics and playdates.
  16. Tomato Wraps: A simple wrap filled with juicy tomatoes and cream cheese is a fun meal.
  17. Tomato Shakshuka: This traditional North African dish features poached eggs in a hearty tomato sauce. Simmer a spicy tomato sauce with poached eggs until set, and serve with crusty bread for a hearty breakfast or brunch.
  18. Tomato and Corn Pizza: Spread tomato sauce on pizza dough, add corn kernels and bake until golden.

Also read : Dietary supplements for toddlers

At EuroSchool, we encourage students to eat a nutrition-rich diet like fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes. They provide essential vitamins and minerals to support students’ growth and development.

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