The Healthiest Foods Your Kids Should Be Eating
If you’re a parent, you probably know how much of a headache it can be to get your kids to eat healthy. And if you’re not much of a nutrition guru, things may be even more complicated. So, here’s a list of foods rich in nutrients that will help you raise a happy, healthy and successful little one.
Packed with protein, B-complex vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium, beans are great for growing kids and can help keep diseases at bay by enhancing their immune system. Moreover, filling up on beans or other nutrient rich foods will make less room for empty calories like sodas or unhealthy choices like candy and chips.
Make sure the beans are soft enough to prevent indigestion and serve them with some salsa, a slice of avocado or any other vitamin C rich veggie or fruit to enhance iron absorption.
Children are continuously building their muscle mass as they grow; hence their increased requirements for high-quality protein, like the 6g found in one egg. Plus eggs are rich in vitamin D which promotes calcium absorption — this helps maintain the rapid growth in bone mass that occurs during childhood. Eggs also come with iodine and vitamins A and B2.
For optimum brain development, a child needs essential fatty acids such as omega-3 DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Fish and shellfish are the best sources of these omega-3s and should be consumed at least twice weekly by kids. Go for low mercury fish like anchovies, catfish, salmon, sardines or tilapia since mercury has adverse effects on brain development.
Not only do fruits make way better snacks than chocolate bars, they also come with lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are crucial for normal growth and development and will help strengthen your child’s immune system.
5. Lean meats
Members of the American Academy of Pediatrics have expressed their concern regarding iron deficiency among young kids. It appears that about 15% of children under 3 do not get enough of this mineral which is essential during the first few years of life. Lean meats like chicken, beef, fish and turkey are the best sources of heme-iron, the type which is easily absorbed by the body. Make sure to keep the meat soft to prevent choking hazards.
6. Nuts and nuts butters
Full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and a little bit of protein, nuts can make a hearty snack. Make your own mixed-nuts by combining almond slivers, cashew nuts, hazelnuts and dried raspberries, apricots or bananas.
7. Sweet potatoes
High in vitamins A, C and folate and rich in fiber and carotenoids, sweet potatoes will provide a sweet nutritional punch for your growing child.
Many kids often make a long face at the mere sight of veggies but these are a must in every child’s diet: like fruits, vegetables offer antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals that are required for healthy growth. Plus they are great sources of fiber which have been linked with a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Green smoothies are a delicious way to incorporate more fiber and nutrients in the diet of a picky eater.
Excessive consumption of juice and sodas has been linked to the epidemic of childhood obesity. Water is definitely the best choice but if your kid just won’t have it, then try adding some lemon wedges, some cucumber or apple slices and a few mint leaves to a carafe of water and chill. Add a little bit of sparkling water before giving it to your child.
10. Whole grains
Whole grains still contain the bran and the germ — unlike refined products —and therefore, offer lots of nutrition and fiber. So, mix some oats with some berries or give your child a whole-wheat muffin instead of a bowl of sugar-laden kids’ cereals.