You want your child to grow up healthy and strong but don’t know which foods to feed them?
We asked dietitian, nutritionist and spokesperson of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Isabel Maples to share with us foods which can help improve a child’s development or affect how their brains develop well into the future.
Kids have until about age nineteen to build enough bone to last a lifetime. Still, most children and teens fall short of getting the recommended amount of calcium to build stronger bones. That’s why more milk matters. Sure, yogurt and cheese can help fill in the missing gaps but the best bet for proper growth is to serve milk at meals, to raise milk drinkers. Increasing milk drinking also improves the intake of other key nutrients for good health, like potassium, vitamin D and magnesium.
Every day, kids need the wound healing ability of vitamin C, found in oranges (and other fruits and vegetables). Most kids like fruit but don’t actually eat it on a given day.
Beans, peas and lentils are a source of iron, to add to what kids also get from meat, like beef, pork and chicken. Iron is important for building red blood cells to carry around oxygen for kids’ busy bodies. Kids sometime fall short of getting enough iron and that slows proper development, including brainpower. Besides iron, beans offer other important nutrients, like fiber for good digestion, magnesium and potassium for a healthy heart, and folate for building new cells.
Kids need whole grains foods like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and whole wheat bread. Those foods are packed with fiber and nutrients for energy and growth- but kid’s don’t necessarily reach for those choices first. So serve popcorn because it is a whole grain that kids and teens actually like, so want to eat.
Fish and seafood, like salmon, shrimp and tuna fish is good for kids. The omega 3 fatty acids are healthy fat in fish and this is especially good for building kids’ brains and eyes. But don’t feed children raw fish. Limit albacore tuna, sea bass and mahi mahi to once weekly. Avoid higher mercury fish, like swordfish, marlin, shark, tilefish and king mackerel.