A nutritious and balanced diet is one of the most important things for a growing child. Children have high energy and nutrient needs that are different from that of adults. During the growing stage, the body needs specific vitamins and minerals for proper development.
Busy lifestyles make it difficult for many parents to find time to prepare healthy meals. But fast food and many ready-made meals do not provide the essential nutrients that children need and often have high fat and sugar content that contributes to the obesity problem among youth.
If you do not have time to cook, at least make sure your child is not eating unhealthy food and be sure to include some super foods in their diet.
Super foods are natural foods packed with many healthy properties, including nutrients and antioxidants. Plus, super foods are easily digestible and will help keep your child’s body and mind healthy.
Here are the top 6 super foods for growing children.
Milk is extremely good for children. Calcium and phosphorous, the two important minerals in milk, are necessary for development of healthy bones, teeth and nails. It is also fortified with vitamin D, another important nutrient for bone health.
Plus, milk contains a wide range of other nutrients essential for growth like protein, zinc and vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin) and B12. Milk also provides iodine, niacin and vitamin B6.
Give whole milk to children up to two years of age, and then give them skim milk. One to two glasses of milk daily is important for growing children. If your children do not like plain milk, add some nuts or make milk dishes like puddings and custards.
Blueberries are delicious and super healthy for growing children. These tiny berries have excellent nutritional value. Blueberries are one of the best antioxidant-rich foods that help protect the body from harmful toxins.
Also, blueberries have anti-diarrheal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. The high amount of manganese in blueberries keeps the bones strong, and the high vitamin C content supports the immune system. Plus, blueberries have fiber, folate, iron, magnesium and B vitamins.
Since blueberries are sweet and tasty, most children like to eat them. You can add berries to oatmeal, yogurt and whole grain cereals.
Yogurt, particular Greek yogurt (has more protein) is immensely beneficial for growing children. The good bacteria present in yogurt boost immunity and aid digestion. It also contains calcium, protein, carbohydrates, vitamin B, zinc and phosphorus.
Eating yogurt daily promotes healthy bones and strong teeth as well as helps meet some of the high energy needs of children.
If your child does not like plain yogurt, you can drizzle it with honey or maple syrup. You can also add fruits and a few chocolate chips.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are ranked as one of the most nutritious vegetables available. They are very rich in beta carotene and other carotenoids that are essential for eyesight. Also, they are a good source of vitamins A, C and E, potassium, folate, calcium, iron and fiber.
Most children like the taste of sweet potatoes. You can serve them boiled, grilled or as baked sweet potato dishes. You can also deep fry sweet potato slices and serve them as a substitute for unhealthy potato chips.
To give your children the much needed energy for the day ahead, oats are considered one of the best breakfast foods.
Research shows that kids who eat oats for breakfast can concentrate better and pay more attention in school compared to those who do not.
Oats contain important nutrients like vitamins B and E, potassium and zinc that help brain development and functioning. Oats are also a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber that will help children stay full longer.
Serve oats with milk or yogurt, topped with fruit. You can also give your children biscuits and snacks made of oats.
Beans are super nutritious and immensely beneficial for growing children. Apart from being high in antioxidants, beans also contain a good amount of protein, calcium, fiber, iron and vitamin B.
Also, beans are low in fat, calories and sodium. Eating beans regularly will keep children energetic, improve their mood, keep their heart healthy and help maintain a healthy body weight.
Beans like kidney, black, navy and pinto along with garbanzo beans, soybeans, dried peas and lentils are good for children. Soak any of these beans overnight before preparing a dish. Children can be given bean salad or soup for lunch or dinner.
Encourage your child to eat these super foods to get the wide range of nutrients they need to stay healthy.
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