10 Superfoods for Growing Children

9. Fish People have been fishing for food for thousands of years throughout history. Fish are such a high source of nutritional value, they are the… Elizabeth Lilian - February 15, 2017

9. Fish

People have been fishing for food for thousands of years throughout history. Fish are such a high source of nutritional value, they are the primary diet source of many cultures. In fact, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA), around 85 percent of fish are caught for the purpose of human consumption.

There are countless health benefits of a diet rich in fish. One portion of 150 grams of fish can provide almost 60 percent of daily protein requirements for an adult, and a healthy dose of omega-3, an important fatty acid that can help lower risk of heart disease and relieve joint pain and arthritis. Omega-3 is also vital for neurological development in babies. Fish contains high quality protein, and a variety of other vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and D, phosphorus, magnesium and iodine.

Studies have shown that consuming fish regularly can reduce the risk of asthma in children, and it has also been linked to a 53 percent decreased risk of macular degeneration. A diet of fish can help boost immunity, increase energy, support healthy skin, reduce inflammation and stimulate growth and development. According to the World Register of Marine Species, there are over 240,000 accepted species of fish in the world as of 2017, and that number is only set to rise.

So with so many different species of fish, how do we know which ones to include in our children’s diet? Some species, such as shark and mackerel, are high in mercury, a pollutant and carcinogen. Salmon is said to be one of the healthiest, with tuna not far behind. Both types of fish can be enjoyed from a can, as canned fish tends to be a cheap, quick source of low-fat protein and vitamins. But be wary, as canned fish can sometimes contain more sodium than fresh fish. Limit your child’s fish intake to two or three serves per week in order to ensure they receive the best health benefits.

10. Beans

Beans are thought to be one of the earliest cultivated crops on the planet. They can be divided into two main groups: green or snap beans, of which you can eat the whole thing, and shell or dried beans, which must be shelled before eating. There are many different types of beans within these two groups, like black beans, black-eyed peas, cannellini, chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and navy beans, and all host a multitude of nutrients.

Beans are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, containing folate, magnesium, iron, phytates, potassium, protein, fiber, vitamin B6 and zinc. Health benefits of beans include antioxidative effects, decreased rates of cancer progression, lower cholesterol levels, improved asthma symptoms, reduced blood pressure and stabilization of blood sugar levels. Beans also have an extremely low glycemic index, which means they make you feel fuller for longer.

With so many different types of beans, it’s best to know which ones are the healthiest to include in your child’s diet. Lentils are one of the most popular, as you can include them in many dishes like soup, salad and risotto. Black beans and kidney beans are also popular, and green beans are great to serve up next to some meat and other vegetables. Because they’re so versatile, you can experiment with lots of different recipes that are child-friendly, like Mexican tortillas, quesadillas, home-made nuggets, hamburger patties, or even protein bars.

To give your child the best start in life, it’s vital that they receive as much nutrition as possible. Though it can be hard at times, and most of the food might just end up on the floor, introducing them to a balanced, healthy diet as early as possible will set them up with healthy eating habits that will (hopefully) stay with them throughout life.