Eating a nutrient-dense diet can be challenging at any age, especially for little ones. Perhaps nutrition has fallen to the bottom of your priorities as a busy parent. Or your children despise fruits and veggies, making adding nutrients and variety to their plates difficult.
Children need essential vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients for optimal growth and development. Eating a nutrient-rich diet early on will support cognitive function, strong bones, and even chronic disease prevention later in life! If your little one is bombarded by cold and flu bugs at school, adding these superfoods to your child's diet may be a simple way to boost their nutrient intake.
Signs of Nutrient Deficiency in Children
- Frequent illness: If your child is getting sick more often than usual, it may be a sign that their immune system is weakened due to a lack of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and zinc
- Dental carries: A lack of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K can lead to dental problems such as weak enamel and cavities.
- Fatigue: If your child is often tired, it may be a sign that they are not getting enough iron, which is essential for healthy red blood cells and oxygen transport.
- Behavioural changes: Nutrient deficiencies can cause behavioural changes, such as irritability, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating.
Note: if you are concerned that your child may not be getting enough nutrients in their diet, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for guidance and advice on improving their nutrition.
With this in mind, here are ten superfoods to help fill nutrient gaps in your child's diet, along with some simple snack and meal ideas – making it easy and fun to incorporate these superfoods! Did you know that snacking is essential for children, making up 27% of their daily calorie intake?! Let's dig into some healthy snacking options:
10 Superfoods to Help Fill Nutrient Gaps for Kids
1. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health, while fiber is necessary for a healthy digestive system. Chia seeds can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, or even used to make chia pudding.
2. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are another excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. They also contain iron, magnesium, and zinc, which are important for building a healthy immune system. Blend hemp seeds into smoothies and pancakes or use them to make a vegan pesto. For babies, you can roll bananas or avocado in hemp seeds for a baby lead feeding friendly snack!
Flaxseeds are another excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and protein. They can be ground up and added to smoothies (no one will know they are there), or used in baked goods such as these hazelnut butter banana muffins.
4. Nut Butter
Almond, hazelnut, macadamia, and pistachio butter are delicious and nutritious snacking options for kids! These nut butters a rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. In addition, nuts are a great source of vitamin E, magnesium, and calcium, which are essential for strong bones and teeth.
Quinoa is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber, omega-3 fats,vitamin B6, folate, iron, manganese, and zinc – making it an excellent choice for kiddos consuming a vegan or paleo diet.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, vitamin A, and several other essential vitamins and minerals. They can be roasted, mashed, or used in a variety of recipes such as paleo pancakes or even smoothies, making them a versatile and delicious addition to any meal.
Broccoli is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber. It also contains sulforaphane, a compound that has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Broccoli can be steamed, roasted, stir-fried, or used as a base for a vegan cheese sauce.
Coconut is a versatile and delicious superfood that is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are a type of healthy fat that is easily absorbed and metabolized by the body. Coconut also contains lauric acid, which has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Coconut can be used to make coconut milk, coconut yogurt, or added to smoothies for a tropical twist.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It's a great source of protein, iron, and vitamin B12, which is essential for vegans and vegetarians. Spirulina can be added to smoothies, mixed into energy bites, or used as a seasoning for roasted vegetables.
Berries, including blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and blackberries, are considered superfoods due to their high nutritional value and health benefits. Berries are packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, and anthocyanins, which can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. erries, particularly blueberries, have been shown to improve brain function and memory, making them a great snack option for children with developing brains. Best of all? Berries are sweet, juicy, and delicious, making them a great healthy snack option that children will enjoy eating.
By incorporating these vegan and paleo superfoods into your child's diet, you can help ensure that they are getting all the essential nutrients they need for optimal growth and development.
Plus, these foods are delicious and easy to prepare, making them a win-win for the whole family!