Fruits And Vegetables For Kids - Benefits And Fun Facts

Fruits And Vegetables For Kids

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Fruits And Vegetables For Kids

Kids today consume more calories than they did several years ago. Most of these calories are from sugary or salty fast foods that provide little nutrition. Vegetables and fruits, on the other hand, are tasty too but unlike fast foods, are packed with vitamins and nutrients that are necessary for your child’s growth.

MyPlate, the new nutrition guide of the US Government, recommends that fruits and vegetables be a part of your kid’s daily meal (1). A recent study has revealed that kids who didn’t eat enough vegetables and fruits were likely to fail assessments when compared to those who ate them (2).

Read about the goodness of vegetables and fruits for kids and what caregivers can do to encourage children to eat greens, in this nutrition article by MomJunction.

Fruits For Kids:

Apple, banana, melons, berries, mangoes, cherries, avocados and pears are a few examples of fruits that are packed with the essential nutrients and vitamins that your children need for nourishment. Essential nutrients are those that the body cannot create or synthesize on its own. Fruits are an excellent source of essential nutrients like calcium, iron, folate, fiber, vitamins A, B, and C that play a major role in your child’s overall development.

Benefits Of Fruits In Your Child’s Diet:

Here is why your children should eat fruit every day:

  • Fruits have fewer calories when compared to processed or fast foods. Replacing fast food and low-cost snacks with fresh fruits will reduce the calorie intake and risk of obesity.
  • There is a link between the quality of your child’s diet and performance at school (3). Children with a poor or imbalanced diet without fruits are likely to perform poorly in assessments.
  • Fruits can boost immunity and improve the body’s ability to fight diseases.
  • Fruits have vital nutrients that can keep illnesses like diabetes, heart stroke, vision problems, digestion problems and certain types of cancers at bay.
  • Fruits like apples, blueberries, cranberries and avocados cleanse the body of useless toxins, thus preventing painful conditions like kidney stones.

[ Read: How To Boost Kids Immune System ]

Nutritional Values Of Fruits:

Fruits are rich in nutrients that are essential for a healthy body. But a single fruit does not have all the nutrients that your kid needs. It is important to include a variety of fruits in the diet to ensure that your children get the nutrition they need from this food type.

  • Fruits are low in calories, sodium and fat, and have zero cholesterol.
  • They are rich in dietary fiber, which is needed to control blood cholesterol. Fiber also reduces the risk of digestive or gastric problems and heart diseases.
  • Eating fruits on a regular basis can eliminate the possibility of vitamin or mineral deficiency in children. Fruits are rich in nutrients like potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron that are usually under-consumed. Vitamin C is essential for repairing any damage to the body tissue, while folic acid boosts production of red blood cells.
  • Fruits like banana, peaches, apricots, melons, oranges and cantaloupe are a few fruits that are rich in potassium.
  • Fruits also supply vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C to the body.

[ Read: Best Fiber Rich Foods For Kids ]

Vegetables For Kids:

Like fruits, vegetables are a great source of essential nutrients that the child needs for development. Veggies are low in calories and fat, which makes them a must in every meal your kid has. The higher the vegetable intake, the healthier your child can be. You may have a tough time getting your kids to eat the greens at the dinner table. But here is why you should ensure that they eat all their veggies every day:

Benefits Of Vegetables For Kids:

  • Vegetables make your diet healthier and give you sustainable energy, unlike sugar highs that last a few hours or less.
  • Regular intake of vegetables, in the right form, can reduce the risk of different types of cancers and chronic diseases.
  • Vegetables can be cooked in different ways and still retain their goodness.
  • They have the nutrients that can boost immunity and keep ailments like a common cold and flu at bay.
  • Veggies can also reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.
  • Fiber from vegetables can prevent colon cancer, high blood pressure and rectal fissures among other diseases.

Nutritional Value Of Vegetables:

Vegetables are rich in vitamins A to K (except B12, which is obtained from animals products, including meat). They are packed with minerals that your child needs through the growing years. Read here to know more about their nutritional values:

  • Dark colored and green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins A, B7, B9, and K.
  • Vegetables have a higher calcium absorption rate when compared to dairy products. Spinach, broccoli, green beans and Chinese cabbage are a few vegetables that are rich in calcium that is essential for strengthening of bones and teeth in kids.
  • Veggies are low in calories, so you will not have to worry about eating too much.
  • They are rich in minerals like copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and sodium.
  • Artichokes, avocados, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and carrots have a high content of potassium.

What Fruits Should Your Child Eat?

Your children should eat all varieties of fruit unless they are allergic to a specific fruit for some reason. Here are a few tips to ensure that your kids get the goodness of all fruits through their diet.

  • The best way to ensure that your child eats all fruits is to invest in seasonal fruits. Buy enough of these fruits during the season to make the most of what they have to offer.
  • Pick fruits of different colors – green, yellow, red, blue, purple and white. You can use these colors to make eating fruits fun for your kids. Also, different colored fruits have different nutrients that your child needs.
  • Red fruits are good for the heart, while yellow ones boost your immunity. Orange fruits are good for the eyes, blue and purple fruits boost your memory. Green fruits are rich in calcium and make your teeth and bones strong.
  • Try something new – eating the same fruits everyday is not enough. It is important for kids to eat all varieties of fruits for the best results.
  • If you think that your child is allergic to a fruit or is not able to tolerate it, consult your doctor immediately.

[ Read: Steps To Develop Healthy Eating In Kids ]

What Vegetables Should Your Child Eat?

Your child can eat all vegetables unless he or she is not intolerant of a specific one. The best way to make sure that your child gets the goodness of vegetables is to include as many veggies as you can in his meals. One of the simplest ways is to include a portion (a cup) of different colored vegetables in one meal. Give all these vegetables and make them interesting for your child to eat.

  • Orange and yellow vegetables like yellow tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and yellow beets are rich in vitamin C and are pro-vitamin A, which means they convert compounds into vitamin A in the body.
  • These veggies are also rich in calcium and magnesium that are essential for bone growth.
  • Green veggies like broccoli, green cabbage, celery, green chilies, lettuce, and kale supply the body with compounds that create enzymes to cleanse the body of toxins.
  • Deep red, blue and purple vegetables have antioxidants that are essential to keep the brain and the heart healthy. They also fight inflammation and improve mineral absorption.
  • Root vegetables like carrots, beets, parsnips, onions, sweet potato, radish, ginger, garlic, and celery are dense in nutrients as they absorb them directly from the soil. For best results, buy organically grown root vegetables for your kids.
  • Red vegetables reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body, and the growth of tumors as well. Red bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes also fight disease-causing free radicals in the body.
  • White colored vegetables such as cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, white onions, turnips, white corn and shallots are good in reducing ailments caused due to hormonal imbalance.

[ Read: Benefits Of Mushrooms For Kids ]

Fruit Facts And Information For Kids:

Fruit is the simplest food available as it needs no cooking. It can be used as an ingredient in a meal or a food item, or eaten raw! Here are a few fruit facts you can share with your kids:

  1. A banana is an energy food, which is why it is recommended for athletes. But banana is actually an herb.
  2. Does your kid love mangoes? Well, that’s one thing he or she has in common with orangutans and the rest of the world! Mango is the most loved fruit around the world.
  3. Apple floats on water as 25% of it is filled with air. Did you know that there around 7,000 varieties of apples in the world?
  4. A tomato is a fruit.
  5. On an average, a strawberry has 200 seeds, which are actually the plant’s ovaries. A strawberry is not really a berry.
  6. Pumpkins and avocados are fruits, not veggies. Eggplants are also fruits and are botanically classified under berries.
  7. Pineapples are so called because they look like huge pine cones.

Vegetable Facts And Information For Kids

Here are some fun facts that can make veggies more interesting to your kids.

  1. Edible broccoli is a part of the bigger flower. We eat the baby part of the flower as the mature parts of the green vegetable are bitter. Cauliflower is also a flower.
  2. Vegetables need warm climate to grow; a few vegetables like kale, carrots, leeks, spinach, parsnips, lettuce and cabbage grow in cold climates.
  3. The highest amount of nutrients in a vegetable is found in the layer right under the skin.
  4. Vegetables are nutritious in any form, frozen or fresh. So are fruits.
  5. You can cook vegetables in any way you want but the lesser you cook them, the better it is. Vegetables are known to lose their nutritional content when cooked.
  6. The tomato was declared a vegetable by the US Supreme Court in 1893.
  7. Cabbages and cucumbers are among the oldest known vegetables in the world.
  8. Carrots were originally purple. They have a high content of vitamin A and can improve night vision – who needs night vision goggles, eh?
  9. Garlic can keep mosquitoes away.
  10. Vegetables with a strong or pungent smell are highly nutritious, as they contain high quantities of vitamin K, C and folate, and minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium. Examples of such veggies are cabbage, radish, scallions and spring onions. The next time your kid complains of a smelly vegetable, tell them it is for their own good!

[ Read: Best Nutritious Foods For Kids ]

How To Make Your Kids Eat Fruits And Vegetables?

Agreed that getting your child to eat enough vegetables and fruits is not easy. But as a parent, it is important that you include different kinds of vegetables and fruits in their diet every day. Here are a few tips to make your kids eat fruits and vegetables every day:

  • Kids learn by example. If your child refuses to eat vegetables at dinner, chances are he or she hasn’t seen you or your spouse eat them. So the first thing to do to make your child eat veggies is to start eating the greens yourself.
  • Presentation matters. Find interesting ways to cook and present vegetables at the dinner table. One way to enhance the presentation is to include vegetables of different colors. You can also do the same with fruits: make a salad with fruits of different colors to make it appealing.
  • Always have a bowl of fresh fruit on the table.
  • Give your kids something made from vegetables or fruits when they are very hungry.
  • Replace unhealthy snacks and fast foods with healthy alternatives like smoothies, fruit salads, and vegetable snacks.
  • Avoid giving your kids fruit juices. Stick to solid fruit and vegetables as much as possible, as juices can elevate blood sugar faster than sliced fruits do.
  • Encourage them to eat uncooked vegetables, if they can be eaten that way.
  • Sprinkle chopped or grated fruit on yogurt and make a cool summer snack.
  • Make fruit-based desserts such as pies, ice creams, and puddings.
  • Look up for recipes and creative ways to increase your child’s fruit and vegetable intake.
  • Include veggies or fruits or both in all meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Fruits & Vegetable Chart For Kids

Now that you know what can be done to make your kids eat their greens, the next question is “how much should they eat?” The recommended fruit and vegetable intake varies based on the age and gender of the child. Here is a fruit and vegetable chart that you can use to determine and check if your kid is getting enough fruits and vegetables every day.

DAILY FRUIT TABLE
Children2-3 years old
4-8 years old
1 cup
1 to 1 ½ cups
Girls9-13 years old
14-18 years old
1 ½ cups
1 ½ cups
Boys9-13 years old
14-18 years old
1 ½ cups
2 cups
DAILY VEGETABLE TABLE
Children2-3 years old
4-8 years old
1 cup
1 ½ cups
Girls9-13 years old
14-18 years old
2 cups
2 ½ cups
Boys9-13 years old
14-18 years old
2 ½ cups
3 cups

Fruits & Vegetable Chart For Kids

The key to ensuring that your children eat all fruits and vegetables is to introduce the foods to them early in their life. That way, they will acquire a taste for them.

Want to share interesting fruit and vegetable facts with other moms? Use our comments section below.

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