There are so many cultural myths we grew up with surrounding physical and mental development of a child that over time, the lines separating fact from fiction becomes blurry. Every day, researchers keep updating existing findings and churn out what foods are beneficial and which are linked to our personal wellness. Even if you don’t get to see those, you couldn’t have missed those broadcast messages and videos making rounds on our social media circuits about potential dangers of some foods. Amidst mixed feelings of paranoia and a conscious effort to eat better to avert long and short term health conditions from the foods, the question is – just what should I really be feeding my child?
Below are the foods that would aid your child’s physical and mental well-being:
- MILK: Cow’s milk is rich in protein, calcium, vitamin and mineral content. While whole cow milk is high in calories and saturated fats, there are now semi skimmed, fat free and lactose free options for those who want healthier options. Plant milk are also growing in popularity, with their varying flavors and benefits based on their nutritional contents. Plant milks are generally believed to be healthier, but not all have protein contents so check out the nutrional info on the milk packs to be sure the milk you’re getting your child is the one packed with nutrients you want them to have.
- BRIGHT COLOURED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, green leafy vegetable (kale and spinach) get their bright colours from the carotenoids. Carotenoids are a class of vitamin A nutrients which contain betacarotene, lutein and lycopene, which are good fighters of the free radicals that cause damages in the brain.
- FISH: Oily fish, rich in omega 3 fatty acids are generally good for children as they are good for the brain, heart and eyes. These fishes contain good fats too – poly-unsaturated fats and mono unsaturated fats. Examples are sardines, salmon, mackerel, and they can be incorporated in your child’s diet.
- EGGS: Eggs are good for physical growth. A study published in the June 6, 2017 edition of The Pediatrics Journal titled ‘Eggs In Complementary Feeding and Growth’ found that children placed on an egg diet grew taller and reduced stunting than those who did not. Egg yolks are also good for babies being weaned. Yup! An egg a day just might keep the stunting away!
- NUTS: Nuts are good for your children and it can be introduced to their diets in many ways. A sprinkling of crushed cashews on greek yoghurt, a PBJ sandwich (peanut butter and jam).Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats which are believed to reduce cholesterol levels. An ounce of mixed nuts contains:
- Calories: 173
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Copper: 23% of the RDI
- Fat: 16 grams, including 9 grams of monounsaturated fat
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Magnesium: 16% of the RDI
- Manganese: 26% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 13% of the RDI
- Protein: 5 grams
- Selenium: 56% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 12% of the RDI
- GREEK YOGURT: Frozen yogurts are growing to replace ice-creams when it comes to healthier dessert options. Greek yogurt, also known as ‘strained yogurt’ is so called because the liquid whey has been strained out to leave a thicker, creamier. It also contains twice the protein content of regular yogurts and the good bacteria that is good for the digestive system.
- BEANS: Beans are very good for the health. Legumes are nutrient-dense foods, rather than calorie dense. Beans are an excellent source of fiber, protein and carbohydrates. Fiber is good at regulating sugar and keeping the child calm rather than hyper. In addition, they also provide iron, calcium, and b vitamins and are good for overall physical and mental development. There are several ways to give your child beans – served with sweet potatoes or plantains, with corn (ewa adalu), as moimoi, as a fritter (akara), even with rice and pastas.
- BERRIES: The deeper the colour, the more nutritious it is. Grapes, strawberries, blueberries…berries are delicious and have great flavor. Give your children in smoothies, with pancakes, juices or as snacks. They sit nicely in lunch boxes too! They are packed with vitamin c and aid memory retention.
- VITAMIN E RICH FOODS: Avocados, sweet potatoes, spinach, almond…there are several vitamin E rich foods which should be incorporated in your child’s diet. Vitamin Eis a fat-soluble nutrient found in many foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals by acting like an extinguisher for those radicals .
- WHOLE GRAINS: Bulgur wheat, millet, quinoa, barley, sorghum, oatmeal, corn meal are some examples of whole grains. Buy whole grain breads, biscuits and cereals for your children. Some can be blended into pastes and made into porridges too. Whole grains are so called because they contain the entire grain, the kernel, the bran, the germ, and endosperm. They are healthier options because they contain in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, plant compounds, and protein whereas most refined grains have lost most of their nutrients to processing and have to be enriched.
Undoubtedly, most of these foods are also good for the brain, which is one of the food trends for 2018!
*Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy
*RDI: Recommended Daily Intake\
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