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MAKE YOUR KIDS EAT SMART

12,January, 2016

 

In her new book, a fitness expert lists 10 super foods that can be brilliant catalysts for your child’s intellectual and physical growth
Super foods are foods that increase energy levels, build up strength, improve immunity and make kids grow taller, stronger and healthier.
NUTS
Nuts are super snacks for your kids. Many Indian families follow the tradition of having soaked almonds early in the morning, a very healthy practice. Nuts have healthy fats. They make for a good option for mid-morning hunger pangs and snack time.
Roasted or salted nuts are easy to carry and can be consumed directly. Mothers must pack a handful of nuts for their kids in their daily tiffin so that kids are discouraged from reaching out for potato chips, cookies and fried packaged foods, which are highly processed and high in calories, sodium and fat.
An Australian study showed that adolescents who consumed nuts regularly had a healthier BMI. When compared to the calories in snacks, nutritionally, nuts are better. Most children’s favourite combination of nuts is cashew nuts (good source of zinc and iron), almonds (rich in vitamin E) and pistachios (rich in iron).
BRAIN BOOSTERS: Vitamin E in nuts prevents cognitive decline as we grow older.
SALMON

Proteins from salmon are easily digestible and get quickly absorbed into the body. 100 gm salmon has 20 gm protein. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help in improving mood and cognition. It also contains iron, calcium, selenium, phosphorus and vitamins A and D. But salmon should not be consumed in large amounts as it may contain traces of mercury.
BRAIN BOOSTERS: Besides salmon, tuna and sardines are also rich in omega-3. According to Bonnie Taub- Dix, RD, the more omega-3s we can get to the brain, the better it will function and the better kids will be able to focus.
EGGS
Eggs are a phenomenal source of high biological value protein. Egg white is rich in vitamins B2, B6 and D, selenium and minerals such zinc, iron and copper. There are only 12-15 calories per egg white, while the egg yolk has more calories (55- 60) and fat, and is rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Egg also contains the carotenoids leutin and zeaxanthin, which are extremely beneficial for the eyes. The yolk contains more calcium, copper, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorus and selenium than the white. Eggs are a good source of amino acid choline, which helps in brain development. There is a growing trend among adults to discard the egg yolk with the notion that it has a high calorie and cholesterol content. As per a study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, egg yolk plays no role in raising cholesterol levels in the body. For those who do not eat egg, 200 ml of milk will provide the same benefit.
BRAIN BOOSTERS: Nutrients in egg like choline, omega-3, zinc and leutin help in better concentration.
BERRIES
Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries are good sources of instant energy. They are great finger food options, especially after a sports activity. They are rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants and folic acid, which help in boosting immunity. They also enhance your child’s brain function and dental health.
Berries make for an excellent replacement for sweets and candies. Five strawberries have higher antioxidant levels than three apples and four bananas. Berries are also rich in quercetin, which alleviates allergies like asthma.
BRAIN BOOSTERS: Antioxidants in blueberries are known to improve learning capacity and locomotor skills.
BANANAS
Contrary to popular belief, bananas are not fattening. In fact, bananas are rich in phosphorus and an excellent source of fibre. A study by Imperial College of London stated that children who ate one banana per day had 34 per cent less chances of developing asthma. Children who are involved in competitive sports like swimming, running, etc. should have a banana for instant energy. They are a perfect hunger fix. High-energy foods like bananas are very beneficial for today’s generation plagued by low energy levels and lethargy.
MILK AND YOGHURT
Many fad diets these days advise against including milk in your daily intake. On the contrary, milk is extremely important for children as it is full of good nutrients. Milk and dairy products are rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and protein. Milk protein is the sole and most economic source of first-class protein in vegetarian diet that is easily available everywhere. It is known for building stronger teeth and bones, leading to their growth and development. The most absorbable form of calcium among all super foods is found in milk. Yoghurt acts a probiotic and provides gut-friendly bacteria. Children who suffer from lactose intolerance can switch to yoghurt as their source of protein. Yoghurt has a higher content of calcium than milk: 100 ml milk has 123 mg calcium, whereas 100 ml yoghurt has 150 mg calcium. Because milk and other dairy products are primary sources of calcium, children who consume limited amounts of these foods are at risk for poor bone mineralization.
In metro cities, one can also opt for organic milk to avoid the harmful effects of the adulteration of milk products. According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, 70 per cent of the milk samples tested in 2012 were found to be adulterated. Harmful substances like detergent and starch were found in the samples. In contrast, organic milk is free of all these substances and easily available in supermarkets these days.
Organic milk is milk from cows or buffaloes that have not been injected with artificial chemicals/hormones to produce milk. Nor have they been fed pesticide-laden grass. It has been reported that in order to meet the increasing demand for milk, these animals are injected with oxytocin to produce more milk, but this hormone can adversely affect the hormonal balance in a child’s body.
Almond milk too is gaining popularity these days, but it is not a good source of protein and has a negligible amount of calcium. So it should not replace normal milk for growing children.
Milk has equal distribution of all the three macronutrients — carbohydrates (4 per cent), proteins (4 per cent) and fats (3.5 per cent) per 100 ml — which is probably why milk is also called a ‘meal in a glass’.
BRAIN BOOSTERS: Fat is important for brain health. Full-fat yoghurt (especially Greek yoghurt) which has the goodness of proteins and fats helps in keeping the brain cell membrane flexible and aids in better transmittal of information.
SPINACH
The beloved cartoon character Popeye has made spinach very popular among kids. Raw or cooked spinach contains twice the amount of vitamin K you need daily. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that does not get diminished by cooking or washing. Spinach is also a good source of iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, fibre and vitamins B6 and A. Vitamin K, calcium and magnesium help in maintaining and improving bone health. But spinach also has coenzyme Q10, polyphenols and betaine, which are better absorbed in the body than iron. However, oxalates present in spinach prevent the absorption of iron. Vitamin-C-rich foods like lemonade or chicken cooked with spinach can help in better absorption of iron in food.
CARROTS
Carrots are rich in antioxidants, vitamin A and fibre. They make for handy, on-the-go snacks, being low in calories (one carrot has 30 calories). Carrots help in minimising dental problems in children. They help in the production of saliva that in turn helps in alkalising the acid-forming bacteria that are the cause of cavities. Being rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, carrots improve eyesight and immunity, along with adding a glow to the skin. Raw carrots are used as a home remedy to help in treating worms in children.
BEANS AND PULSES
These are rich in iron and protein. The iron content in beans — especially kidney beans and blackeyed beans — helps restore the cognitive function to normal. The inclusion of beans and pulses in one’s diet, especially in vegetarian diets, can help in better cognitive function.
WHOLE GRAIN
Whole grains have low glycaemic index. Starting the day with whole grain cereal helps children pay more attention in class. Whole grains are complex carbohydrates, that is, they are rich in fibre and are the brain’s main source of nutrition. Some examples of whole grains are red millet (nachni/ragi), wholewheat (atta), oatmeal and sorghum (jowar).
BRAIN BOOSTERS: Fibre ensures that glucose is released slowly so that the brain gets a constant supply of energy.

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  1. 13,January, 2016 at 8:39 am
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