Superfoods for Kids: The Nutrients They Need and Where to Find Them
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Where to get it: Fiber found in whole grains should be the foundation of a healthy diet. Aim for two to three grams in each serving. Look for foods with complex carbohydrates such as whole grain cereals, breads, pastas, brown rice, beans, and nuts; fruits like raspberries, pears, and apples; and veggies like artichokes, peas, and broccoli. Your kids may not like all foods with whole grains, so focus on the ones they will eat or get creative with recipes by adding cheese or a little butter for flavor.
MAGNESIUM's Superpower: Endurance!
Magnesium is a metal that the body uses for more than 300 metabolic reactions. When kids are deficient in magnesium, their bodies are unable to produce enough energy to make it through the day. Magnesium is also important for a healthy heart and strong bones.
Where to get it: green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts
POTASSIUM's Superpower: Balance!
Potassium is a mineral that maintains fluid balance in the body and is necessary for healthy blood presssure because it offsets the effects of sodium. With kids eating less fruits and vegetables, many are deficient in this power nutrient. According to a 2009 report by the Centers for Disease Control, only 22.3 percent of high school students eat fruits and vegetables five or more times a day.
Where to get it: fruits like bananas, cantaloupe, prunes, and watermelon, as well as orange juice; vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and winter squash
CALCIUM's Superpowers: "Indestructible" bones!
Calcium is a vitamin that builds strong bones. With the wide selection of sodas, sweetened drinks, and sports drinks (that often make false or iffy health claims), kids are drinking less milk than ever before, a trend that can impact their bone health and physical development. Milk is also a significant source of protein, which is important for growth and sports performance.
Where to get it: Aim for three to four glasses of lowfat milk and dairy products like lowfat yogurt and cheese. Calcium-fortified orange juice is also a good source of vitamin D (although the Institute of Medicine increased the recommended vitamin D requirements in late 2010, so speak with a pediatrician about the possibility of a vitamin supplement).
Although it's important for kids to eat a variety of whole foods, don't worry if there are certain foods your kids refuse to eat. "Kids go through tons of stages, and it's totally normal for them not to be interested in certain foods at certain times," explains Ansel. Being a healthy eater also consists of the occasional treat. "If you become overly restrictive, you're not going to end up with a healthy eater because your child is going to be so focused on what they're not having that everyone else is."