Super Foods for Your Child
Kathleen BarnettEggs Eggs offer protein, and they're one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Eating protein at breakfast helps kids feel satisfied longer (no mid-morning hunger pangs)
Oatmeal Research shows that kids who eat oatmeal are better able to concentrate and pay attention in school. Fiber-rich whole grains, like oatmeal, digest slowly, providing kids with a steady stream of energy.
Fruit…..Any fruit is good for your child, providing essential vitamins and minerals. Fruit also has fiber, which keeps kids regular. To reap the nutritional benefits, aim to eat a variety of fruits, like berries, melon, kiwifruit, and oranges.
Nuts Nuts are made up of healthy fats, which kids need for growth and development, as well as for heart health. Having a little bit of “good” fat in the morning gives your kids a burst of energy to keep them going.
Milk Protein and calcium in dairy products provide fuel for the brain and body. Protein helps build brain tissue, while milk's calcium keeps kids' bones and teeth strong.
Blueberries They've ranked among the healthiest fruits for years (go, antioxidants!). Now research suggests that in addition to protecting against heart disease and diabetes and improving brain function, blueberries may also help reduce visceral "toxic" belly fat -- a type of fat that has been linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome. Ways to get them in your kid's diet: They're a natural go-with breakfast choice (say, tossed into a bowl of granola and milk) and are also great in summer salads and desserts.
Tomatoes They're loaded with lycopene -- a substance that protects against many cancers. Cooking tomatoes makes them even healthier because the heat releases the lycopene. Hint: Pairing tomato-y foods with a good fat, like olive oil, helps the body absorb more. Ways to get them in your kid's diet: Pizza and pasta sauces are obvious choices, or add tomato sauce to turkey meatballs or meatloaf if you need to
Low-Fat Greek Yogurt It contains healthy bacteria known to boost immunity and aid digestion, and has two to three times the amount of protein and less sugar than regular yogurt. Add a drizzle of honey (after age 1) for sweetness, a bit of maple syrup, or try a squeeze of agave syrup (a sweetener with a lower glycemic index, so it won't make your child's blood sugar -- and energy level -- spike and then crash soon after breakfast).
Cabbage It has a mild flavor and crunch that kids tend to like better than the usual salad greens. And cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, broccoli, and kale contain phytonutrients known to lower the risk for many types of cancer, as well as improve digestion. It also helps clear harmful toxins from the body by triggering the release of enzymes whose job it is to whisk them out. Ways to get it in your kid's diet: Make coleslaw with low-fat mayo; shred and toss it into soups or Asian noodle dishes. Cut into strips to use as a finger food.
Salmon It contains heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which are also known to boost brain development, fend off depression, and have superb anti-inflammatory powers. Be sure to pick the wild kind, which is lower in mercury and higher in omega-3's. Best way to get your kid to eat it: Pair salmon with ingredients he already likes. Glaze salmon fillets with orange juice or brush them with teriyaki sauce. Or serve it as salmon cakes, burgers, or salad.
Black Beans Beans are a great source of protein, as well as fiber and calcium -- two things kids tend not to get enough. Make nachos or quesadillas with black beans, cheese, and salsa; try black-bean veggie burgers, or whip up black-bean hummus.
Cinnamon Research shows that this spice can help regulate blood sugar, which may also minimize those all-too-common mid-morning energy crashes . Ways to get it in your kid's diet: Sprinkle it on oatmeal, pancakes, cold cereal, and yogurt, and add a few extra dashes of cinnamon to muffin or quick-bread recipes that call for it.