Fruits and Vegetables for Kids – Health Benefits and Other Facts
- Importance of Fruits and Vegetables for Children
- Nutritional Value of Fruits
- Nutritional Value of Vegetables
- Fruits Your Child Should Eat
- Vegetables Your Kids Should Eat
- Facts About Fruits for Children
- Vegetable Facts for Children
- Why Is Your Child Not Eating Vegetables or Fruits?
- What If Your Child Prefers Eating Fruits and Not Vegetables?
- What If Your Child Prefers to Eat Only One Vegetable for a Long Time?
- Tips on How to Encourage a Child to Eat Vegetables and Fruits
- Fruits & Vegetable Serving Chart for Kids
Fruits and vegetables hold immense health benefits for children but as a parent, you sure know what a task it is at times to feed them these. They mostly eat unhealthy junk foods and despise eating fruits and vegetables. But the importance of healthy eating cannot be undermined; therefore it is very important that you include more and more fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet. In the following article, we shall be discussing the various health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables for your kids and also share other important facts too.
Importance of Fruits and Vegetables for Children
If your kid is guzzling on sugary drinks and gorging junk food, he may appear healthy but is only consuming empty calories that are adding bulk to his body and not any nutrition. On the other hand, consuming more fruits and vegetables will make him more agile, healthy and fit. Fruits and vegetables are power-packed with various vital nutrients, which are of great importance for your kid’s growth and development. Let us discuss the benefits of fruits and vegetables in detail.
Benefits of Fruits
Your child needs essential nutrients for proper growth and development because these essential nutrients cannot be synthesized or made by the body on its own. Fruits such as mango, banana, strawberry, apple, watermelon, pear and others are rich in various essential nutrients like folate, iron, calcium, fibre, vitamin A, vitamin B, Vitamin C, etc. which are very important for your kid’s health and overall well-being.
Here is how fruits help kids:
- Boost Immunity: Fruits contain important minerals and vitamins like vitamin C and E that help boost immunity. Consumption of fruits on a regular basis can boost the immunity of your child which enables his body to fight various health ailments and diseases.
- Keep Obesity at Bay: Fruits have fewer calories as compared to processed, junk food. Eating fresh fruits during the day can give your child essential nutrients and prevent him from eating unhealthy foods. This ultimately means his weight will be in check.
- Keep Diseases Away: The various essential nutrients present in fruits keep certain health conditions like vision problems, diabetes, digestion problem, etc. at bay.
- Cleanse the Body: Some fruits such as avocados, blueberries, apples, etc. are very effective in removing the toxins from the body and thus cleanse the body.
- Better Energy and Performance: Consuming fruits on a regular basis can help in keeping your kid’s energy levels high. Better energy levels mean better concentration which in turn helps in better performance in academics, sports, and other spheres.
Benefits of Vegetables
Similar to fruits, vegetables are also the power-house of nutrition. Therefore, it is very important to add vegetables to your kid’s daily diet.
Here is how vegetables benefit your kids:
- Provide More Energy: Vegetables are loaded with nutrition and thus provide more sustainable energy in comparison to refined or processed foods.
- Boost Immunity: Consuming various kinds of vegetables on a regular basis builds the immune strength of children and reduce the risk of various diseases.
- Keep Diabetes at Bay: Regular intake of certain veggies can also keep diabetes at bay.
- Keep Diseases at Bay: Regular consumption of vegetables keeps various kinds of chronic diseases and cancers at bay.
Nutritional Value of Fruits
As discussed above, fruits are essential for your kid’s overall health. However, one variety of fruit does not solve the purpose. Therefore, you need to add a variety of fruits to your kid’s diet to ensure he gets all the required nutrition for his optimal growth and development. We shall now be discussing what nutrition your child may get from eating various kinds of fruits:
- Fruits are a good source of pepping up your child’s potassium intake. You can add banana, oranges, melons, cantaloupe, etc. to your kid’s diet.
- Fruits have fewer calories fat, and no cholesterol. So they don’t compromise with your kid’s health.
- Fruits are high in fibre, which keeps your kid’s digestive system function properly.
- Fruits also provide ample amounts of vitamins and minerals to your kid’s body.
Nutritional Value of Vegetables
Vegetables are an important source of nutrition for your kid and help your child in his growing years. Just like you need to add a variety of fruits to your kid’s diet, you should also include a variety of vegetables. Let us see what all nutrition your child may get by eating various vegetables:
- Vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc. are loaded with potassium.
- Vegetables are loaded with essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, sodium, zinc, iron, etc.
- Vegetables such as spinach, kale and other dark green vegetables have good amounts of vitamin A, B7, B9, etc.
- In comparison to dairy products, vegetables have better and higher calcium absorption by the body.
Fruits Your Child Should Eat
Until or unless your child is allergic to any specific kind of fruit, you should include all kinds of fruits in your kid’s diet. This is because different fruits have different vitamins and minerals and your kids require all of them. Here are some fruits that you may include in your kid’s diet:
- Giving fruits that are yellow and orange in colour are good for the eyes of your child. So, feed him oranges.
- Fruits that are red in colour like apples and strawberries are good for the health of the heart of your child.
- Green-coloured fruits like pears and guavas are loaded with calcium and thus promote the health of the bones and teeth.
- All fruits are good but seasonal fruits are particularly suggested because of their immense health benefits.
- Try to give a different fruit every day instead of giving one same fruit every day.
Vegetables Your Kids Should Eat
The same rule applies to vegetables also and that is, unless your kid is allergic to any specific vegetable, you should include all the vegetables in his diet. Following are some of the vegetables that you should add in your kid’s diet:
- Add root vegetables such as turnip, carrots, beetroots, etc. in your child’s diet as they are high in nutrients.
- Add red-coloured vegetables such as tomato, red bell pepper, etc to help your kid’s body fight with disease-causing free radicals.
- Add green-coloured vegetables like spinach, broccoli, etc as it gets rid of the excess toxins from your kid’s body.
- Purple or deep red-coloured vegetables ensure better heart and brain health.
- Giving white-coloured vegetables like garlic, cauliflower, etc. to maintain a good hormonal balance in the body. It helps with building the immunity too.
Facts About Fruits for Children
Fruits are not only highly nutritious but also extremely convenient to eat because there is no cooking involved. Your kid can eat the fruit in its original form or in various other forms too like smoothies, shakes, salads, etc. You may like to share some of the following fruit facts with your kid to encourage him to eat more fruits:
- Is your kid a big fan of eating mangoes? Well, he is not the only one, as mango is one of the most loved fruits in the world.
- There are more than 7000 varieties of apples available in the world and this wondrous fruit can even float on water because one-fourth of an apple is filled with air.
- Tomatoes, avocados and pumpkins are not vegetables but fruits. Also, eggplants are classified into berries too.
- Bananas provide instant energy; this is perhaps the reason why most athletes eat bananas before working out.
- Pineapples have pine in their name because their shape and appearance is like a pine cone.
- Strawberry is not a berry and each strawberry has roughly 200 seeds.
Vegetable Facts for Children
Vegetables can be consumed in their original raw form, cooked form or in the form of soup or it can be used to make various culinary dishes. Here are some interesting facts about vegetables for your kiddo:
- Cucumbers and cabbage are among the first few vegetables known to mankind.
- Most vegetables need a warm climate to grow. However, vegetables such as carrots, kale, spinach, leaks, etc. need cold weather conditions to grow.
- The carrots we see now are orange or red in colour but originally they were purple in colour.
- We should not cook vegetables for longer durations because they tend to lose their nutritional content.
- Apart from having antibacterial and antifungal properties, garlic can keep mosquitoes away too.
- The maximum amounts of nutrients are available just under the skin of the most vegetables.
Why Is Your Child Not Eating Vegetables or Fruits?
You must have tried every possible way to feed fruits and vegetable to your kid but to no avail. This is because when kids are young, they may suffer from a condition called food neophobia, which is the fear or scepticism towards new food items. This condition is more potent when kids are between the ages of one and six. If your kid is younger than six years of age, he may refuse to eat some fruits or vegetables because of their strong taste. Children have more taste buds than adults and thus they find simpler and sweeter foods more palatable in comparison to vegetables or other pungent fruits.
What If Your Child Prefers Eating Fruits and Not Vegetables?
We have discussed in the above sections that it is important for a child to consume both fruits and vegetables. In case your child is only eating fruits then he may be losing out on various essential nutrients that he may only get by eating vegetables. Also, most fruits are high in sugar and thus more in calories too. In case your child has weight issues or your kid is obese, eating more amounts of fruits than vegetables may further aggravate the problem. Also, your kid’s present food habits are going to affect his future food preferences and thus it is important to include both fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet.
What If Your Child Prefers to Eat Only One Vegetable for a Long Time?
Just the way eating only fruits is not good, in the same way eating only one vegetable is not good for your child. Your child will not be getting all the other nutrients present in various other vegetables. For example, if your child only eats potato, then he is not getting the goodness of spinach, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and various other vegetables. Also, because the eating preferences and habits are made early in childhood, it is important that you add all the vegetables in your child’s diet.
Tips on How to Encourage a Child to Eat Vegetables and Fruits
Here are some ways to get kids to eat vegetables and fruits:
- Make the fruits and vegetables accessible. Keep washed apples, carrots and other such fruits handy.
- Lead by example; include more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- The presentation is important; no matter what you give to your kid, it should be presented beautifully.
- Make more fruit-based desserts.
- Try and include fruits and vegetables in all three meals.
- Be more innovative in making various recipes and thus add more fruits and vegetables.
- Take your kid vegetable shopping and let him pick his favourite vegetable and fruits.
- Say no to fruit juices, give the whole fruit instead.
- Switch to healthy snacking and give your child a fruit instead.
- Make a small vegetable garden, kids would love to eat what they grow.
- Give an array of colours on your kid’s plate.
- Make fruit and vegetable eating a fun experience.
- Involve your kids in cooking various dishes.
- Freeze various fruits for some frozen smoothie or dessert fun.
- Appreciate your kid for his efforts, whenever he tries to eat some new fruit or vegetable.
Fruits & Vegetable Serving Chart for Kids
Here’s a daily fruit chart for kids :
|Quantity of Fruit
|2 to 3 years old kids
|4 to 8 years old kids
|1 and a half cup
|9 to 13 years old girls/boys
|1 and a half cup
|14 to 18 years old girls
|1 and a half cup
|14 to 18 years old boys
Here’s a daily vegetable chart for kids :
|Quantity of Vegetable
|2 to 3 years old kids
|4 to 8 years old kids
|1 and a half cup
|9-13 years old girls
|9-13 years old boys
|2 and a half cups
|14-18 years old girls
|2 and a half cups
|14-18 years old boys
The above-mentioned are approx values.
The mantra of making your kid all the fruits and vegetables is to introduce them from a young age only. Introduce fruits and vegetables as soon as your baby is ready to eat solid foods, however, consult your doctor before giving any fruit or vegetable to your baby.