Adequate nutrition is very important for overall growth and development of the child. It is vital for development of the body, mind and soul. Parents of young children are often concerned about feeding their child with the best nutrition possible. However, quite often it becomes a challenge for the parents to introduce a new food or a nutritious food to a child, as the child may not like the taste of the food. Super foods are food items that are high in nutrition and good for overall health and wellbeing. These are food items that are considered highly nutritious and beneficial. They are usually whole foods that are generally unprocessed and left in their pure state. There are no hard and fast rules for categorizing a food item as a super food.
Super Foods for Children
A large number of super foods that are considered as nutritious are not child friendly. Following is a list of child friendly super foods.
Blueberries as a Super Food for Children:
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and are usually liked by children because of their fun shape and taste. It can be served fresh when they are in season and during the off-season frozen blue berries are a good option. Freezing blueberries does not affect the anti-oxidant property of the blueberries. Studies have also shown that regular consumption of blueberries reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Oats as a Super Food for Children:
Oatmeal is a great choice for breakfast for children. It is rich in soluble fibre which helps in keeping the tummy full for long hours. Oats are rich source of proteins. Oats can be consumed in multiple ways as desired. It may be served with fruits, nuts, dry fruits, yogurt or even spices. Oats can also be used to make cereal bars or oatcakes.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E and magnesium making it an essential super food for children. These nutrients help in healthy maintenance of the cardiovascular system. It is advised to have almonds along with the skin, as the skin is rich in antioxidants. In addition to the above, almond also contain healthy fats needed for normal growth and development of children. Almonds can be eaten as it is or it can be served with other food items such as oats, cereals, desert toppings etc.
Eggs as a Super Food for Children:
Eggs are one of the healthiest options for breakfast. They are easy to cook and can be modified in multiple ways as desired. The white portion of the egg is rich in protein and the yolk is rich in healthy fats. Besides these, eggs also contain good amount of vitamin B12 and folate making it a super food for children.
Cinnamon is a sweet and savoury spice that is used as a flavouring agent and topping. It is generally liked by kids due to its Christmassy flavour and mild spiciness. Cinnamon has antiviral properties and provides protection against cough, cold and flu. It is almost calorie free and usually loved by children. Cinnamon powder can be sprinkled over fruits such as apple to mask its taste and make it more palatable for children. It can also be used as an added flavour to hot beverages, oatmeal and other breakfast cereal. When cinnamon is added to food, additional sugar can be reduced as the cinnamon also has sweet properties.
Edamame are soybeans within their shells. Eating edamame can be fun for kids as they have to pop the beans out before having them. Edamame are a rich source of protein and fibre. They help in keeping the children full and energized for a long period of time. Edamame is a great way of introducing kids to beans.
Quinoa is a seed that has gained popularity in the recent years considering its health benefits. This grain-like food item contains high level of essential amino acids making it a useful superfood for children. It is a whole protein and is also rich in iron and other essential minerals required by the body. It has a nutty taste and it pops when chewed; which makes it a fun food for children. It is cooked like any other grain such as couscous or rice. It can also be cooked with oats and served for breakfast.
Concord Grapes as a Super Food for Children:
Concord grapes are very popular among children as the fruit tastes like candy. It is often used a flavouring agent. It is an anti-oxidant and contains polyphenols which gives in the rich purple colour. The flesh of this fruit slides away from the skin easily and the texture is jelly-like, very close to the texture of jujubes. Other grapes such as green grapes are also very healthy and can be considered as super food for children.
Greek yogurt is a thick and creamy dairy product that is rich in protein and calcium. It comes in multiple flavours and can be served by itself or along with other food items such as fruits, cereals, honey etc. Low fat and fat free yogurt is also available in market quite easily. With every bite of yogurt, the child gets tons of protein and calcium.
Cherries are considered as a Super Food for Children:
Cherries are nutrient filled fruits that are tasty and quite appealing to children. They are rich in melatonin and can be consumed as late night snack. Melatonin helps in regulating sleep and helps in management of sleep issues. They are also rich in amino acids and anti-oxidants. They are sweet in taste and can be used to make desserts and garnish bakery items. However, children should be cautioned against swallowing the pits.
Milk as a Super Food for Children:
Milk is highly rich in calcium and is one the best super foods for children unless the child has medical issues such as lactose intolerance. Skimmed milk is low in calories but rich is protein and calcium. Studies have shown that it is advisable for children to have whole milk instead of skimmed milk. In case of intolerance to milk, options such as nut milk and soy milk may be considered. The taste of milk can be masked by adding flavouring agents or can be made into fruit shakes. Other dairy products can be considered too in case the child does not like drinking milk.
Strawberries as a Super Food for Children:
Strawberries have high content of anti-oxidants. Their mild sweet taste makes them popular among children. They are also rich in iron. During strawberry season, they can be consumed straight; during other times in the year, dried strawberries also serve as a great treat. Strawberries can be used to make yummy desserts and can also be used to make smoothies and milkshakes.
Sunflower Seeds as a Super Food for Children:
These seeds are a favourite snack among children and can serve as a healthier alternative to candies or chips. Sunflower seeds are rich in phytosterols which help in lowering cholesterol and helps in normal functioning of the body. They are also rich in vitamin E.
Super food may be high in a single class of nutrients or it may be rich in multiple nutrients. It may have high content of mineral, vitamins, phytochemicals and/or anti-oxidants. They generally have low content of saturated fats and trans fat; and usually have very low content of food additives and preservatives. There is plenty of processed food sold in the market labelled as nutritious food; however, these items cannot be considered as super food. Parents should opt for natural options and be cautious while choosing super food for their kids.