Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What I Think About: 10 Foods Kids Need

Top 10 Healthy Foods for Growing Kids

The best way to get kids to eat healthy foods is to serve them a healthy diet from birth. Although it may seem difficult to come up with healthy foods that kids will like, here is a list of ten foods that most kids enjoy. These foods are high in fibre, low in saturated fats, and contain lots of vitamins and minerals that will help them to grow up strong and healthy.

 1. Milk – From birth, babies and toddlers love milk. But as they get older, many kids drink less milk in favour of sugary soda or juice. But milk is a healthy source of calcium, vitamin D, and protein that helps them build strong bones. Unless they have a milk allergy, kids should have at least 2 glasses of milk a day – for example, one with cereal and another to complement their lunch or dinner.

 2. Apples – Apples are a great healthy snack, full of vitamin C and fibre. Kids love them because they are juicy and sweet, yet they are low in calories. However, don’t be tempted to replace a whole apple with applesauce or apple juice, as these can contain more sugar and less fibre.

 3. Peanut Butter – Peanut butter is a good source of protein that can go in a sandwich or serve as a dip for apples or celery. Although it is high in fat, the fat found in peanut butter is unsaturated, which isn’t as bad as the saturated fats found in many processed foods. You can also purchase peanut butter with reduced fat or added vitamins.

 4. Yogurt – Along with milk, yogurt is another healthy dairy product that kids love. Avoid yogurts targeted at kids, because these often contain extra sugar. Instead, choose low-fat yogurt with “love active cultures” to help your children’s digestive systems.

 5. Tuna Fish – Tuna fish is a good source of vitamins, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, which help brain development. Although some parents may be concerned about mercury contamination, tuna fish is fine to eat in moderation – perhaps once or twice a week.

 6. Cereal – Breakfast cereals can provide your children with many vitamins and minerals to start the day. Instead of sugary cereals, choose cereals that are made with whole grains. You can even add some chopped fruit to your child’s cereal for extra nutrition.

 7. Eggs – Eggs are another healthy breakfast choice. They contain lots of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Although they do contain cholesterol, they are not high in saturated fat, which is the main factor that raises cholesterol levels. Eating eggs every other day is a healthy choice.

 8. Carrots – It’s hard to get kids to eat vegetables when they’re young, but many kids like carrots because of the fun colour and sweet taste. They are also high in fibre, vitamins A and C, and potassium.

9. Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a good breakfast food and a healthy snack ingredient. It’s best to have traditional oatmeal rather than the quick-cook kind with added sugar, as it contains more fibre. You can always add honey, peanut butter, or fruit to a bowl of oatmeal. Oatmeal can also be used to make healthy cookies or snack bars.

 10. Sunflower Seeds – When kids are old enough to eat seeds without choking, sunflower seeds are a healthy snack for them to enjoy. They are high in fibre and contain lots of iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E.

What I Think is that our children deserve the best foods we can offer.  Help them eat healthy by offering wise snack options.

This article was written by Erin McKinney, who is a licensed nurse practitioner. Erin also owns the site Masters of Nursing for students interested in getting an advanced degree in the nursing field.

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