Superfoods for Kids

Superfoods for Kids

Superfoods for Kids

Super good foods for Kids

Frequently, parents are surprised when I describe my top “superfoods” for kids, as they expect a list of exotic, expensive and hard to find items. But the truth is that superfoods are not novelty foods, in fact, there is no official definition of a "superfood". They are foods that are natural, everyday foods designed by nature to keep the body healthy and prevent illness.

My top ‘super good foods’

·         Dairy: milk, yogurt and cheese

·         Wholegrains

·         Fruit & Vegetables

·         Oily Fish

 

Milk, Yogurt & Cheese

Dairy is so important for children, because of the role it plays in building bones – the skeletal structure that forms the foundation on which a healthy body depends. 90% of the adult skeleton is formed by the age of 17, with the balance by the early 30s and childhood represents the critical period for bone development and prevention of osteoporosis.

Milk, yogurt and cheese are a fantastic source of calcium – essential for strong bones.

What’s the recommended intake?

When it comes to dairy, 3 a day is the advice for young children and 5 a day for teenagers. A good way to include 3 a day is to be sure to have a serving of milk, yogurt and cheese each day.

Are we getting enough?

No. In Ireland 28% of Irish boys and 37% of Irish girls aged between 5-12 years have inadequate calcium intakes.

Things to remember:

Low fat milk is not suitable for children under two years of age. After age 2 it can be gradually introduced provided the child is a good eater and has a varied diet.

As well as calcium, yogurt often has the added benefit of probiotics. A probiotic is a live microbial food ingredient. When consumed in sufficient quantities, it has a number of benefits including helping to balance good and bad bacteria in the gut, promoting a healthy immune system, helping to fight infections and prevent ill health.  Glenisk Kids Yogurts contain probiotic cultures.

 

Wholegrains

This includes cereals, oats, bread, pasta and rice. These foods are an excellent source of fibre, energy and B vitamins. Fibre is important for a healthy digestive tract and for keeping the bowels regular. It also creates a feeling of fullness which helps kids to avoid unnecessary snacking.

Wholegrain foods should make up the biggest proportion of each of your child’s three main meals. What’s the recommended intake?

Children should consume an amount of fibre equal to or greater than their age plus 5 grams per day.

Are we getting enough?

No. 61% of Irish children are getting less than their recommended intake of fibre.

Things to remember:

A food is considered to be a good source of fibre (a wholegrain) if it has six  grams of fibre per 100 grams.

The best way to introduce wholegrain is to include wholegrain breads, cereals, rice and pasta in the daily diet.

Don’t forget that plenty of liquids help wholegrains to do their work. Wholegrains act like a sponge absorbing fluids.

 

Fruit & Vegetables

Fruit and Vegetables are a concentrated source of vitamins and minerals that help to keep the body healthy and prevent ill health.

What’s the recommended intake?

The recommended intake is 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day.

Are we getting enough?

Most Irish children are only getting half the recommended intake each day.

Things to remember:

One portion is equal to one medium sized fruit or a half glass of unsweetened fruit juice or a small bowl of tinned fruit in natural juice or three dessertspoons of stewed fruit or a bowl of homemade vegetable soup.

If your kids don’t like vegetables, you can compensate by offering extra fruit.

Fresh is good but frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables also go towards the recommended intake.

 

Oily Fish

Oily fish is a super food because it contains a special supply of omega 3 fats.

Since ancient times, fish has been recognised as a “brain food”. This was before research has confirmed that the omega 3 fish oils that are found in fish have special benefits in growth, vision and brain development, concentration and learning. Oily fish includes salmon, mackerel, trout, fresh water tuna, herring, shrimp, crab, sardines and pilchards.

What’s the recommended intake?

Two portion of fish per week with at least one being an oily fish is sufficient to get enough omega-3.

Are we getting enough?

No. Despite being an island nation, we could all benefit from increasing our consumption of oily fish.

Things to remember:

Tinned fish (except tinned tuna) is as acceptable as fresh.

Introducing fish early will help your child to enjoy its taste.

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