Veggies and kids don't really get along well. But veggies have never failed to nourish your child. They are capable of supplying all the required minerals required for the growth of your child.
By Siddiqha Naseem
Have you and your child ever been on the verge of a meltdown because of his dislike of vegetables? While some children happily munch on carrots and love peas in their pasta, others may throw a tantrum at the dining table, whenever they have to eat veggies. Often, parents may feel like they are in a losing battle, where junk food usually scores over nutritious food.
But, it is important to include vegetables in your child's diet, to promote his growth and development. Instead of introducing your little one to exotic varieties, focus on including local and seasonal options in their everyday meals.
In a 2017 study, 'Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality', published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, researchers have stated that eating 10 portions (800 g) of vegetables a day can prevent approximately 7.8 million premature deaths.
Feeding vegetables to children in innovative ways will also help them understand the importance of a balanced diet. So, read on to know what vegetables are essential for your growing child:
Most kids like carrots because of their sweet taste and crunchiness. These vibrant, orange-coloured vegetables are loaded with nutrients. Carrots have beta-carotene, a mineral that is converted to vitamin A in the human body. It provides a number of health benefits for eyes, teeth, skin, heart, kidney and liver.
Bottle gourd or lauki is usually the least favourite on the plate. A misunderstood vegetable, bottle gourd has 96 per cent of water and 100 per cent goodness. It is rich in potassium, iron, sodium, vitamin C and vitamin B. It works as a remedy for your child's constipation, digestive and urinary disorders and sleep problems.
Blood sugar level fluctuations may be the reason your child brings out his or her cranky side. Beans are a rich source of soluble fibre, which help your child keep his cool. Soluble fibres are known to regulate blood sugar levels. Hence, they may help calm your child and soften his mood swings.
Does your child turn up her nose at the sight of broccoli? Then, tell her that it is a powerhouse of nutrients including potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A. These minerals are good for the heart, muscles, eyes and immune system. Next time you prepare a baked dish, throw in some broccoli for a health boost.
“Vegetables are essential and integral to a healthy diet especially in the growing up years. They are great sources of fibre, vitamin A, C and antioxidants,” says Priya Kathpal, Nutritionist and founder of Nutrify.
Spinach is loaded with goodness for children. Indian mothers have always chosen greens for their children’s nutrition. This one is an excellent remedy for constipation, urinary infections, gastric disorders and intestinal worms. Spinach is also a superfood that helps enhance vision. It is essential in organ functionalities.
Intestinal worms enter the body in the form of eggs. They develop in the intestinal walls and feed on the nutrients. Garlic is a great option to kill these germs and prevents them from growing. It is also a great remedy for common cold in children. The oil present in garlic clears the respiratory passage and helps kids breathe better during a cold.
Did you know cauliflower comes in three different colours — orange, green and purple? In India, only the white flowers are available, but they give the same benefits in terms of the nutrients, as the others. This vegetable is essential for bone development in children. It contains vitamin C, K and a host of minerals.
This big nutritious vegetable is a power boost to the immune system and vision of your child. It kills the germs in baby’s intestine and keeps it clean and healthy. The soluble fibre present in pumpkin can slow down digestion and is a remedy for constipation in kids. Babies can be introduced to pumpkin after teething as it will be easier for them to chew.
“Most seasonal, local vegetables should make their way to a child's diet. Veggies that a family eats regularly should be introduced early to avoid fussy eaters in future. Pumpkin, peas, carrots, spinach, bottle gourd, beetroot, potato, tomatoes, sweet potato, fenugreek, bell peppers, cucumbers are some of the most important veggies for children,” says Priya.
Children will like this root vegetable for its sweetness and creamy texture. It is rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D in sweet potatoes helps in the development of bones and teeth in children. Vitamin C has antioxidants that help in boosting the immune system against common infections like cold and flu.
An inexpensive vegetable filled with effective nutrients — cabbage. It is an excellent source of fibre and helps in a maintaining a healthy digestive system in children. The presence of vitamin K ensures healthy blood circulation. Folic acid present in cabbage helps in absorbing iron.
Ever thought of offering a cucumber to your little one to quench his thirst? You can, because cucumbers are 96 per cent water. This summer hero is also rich in vitamins. Drinking cucumber juice is known to improve your child’s immune systems and boost energy levels. It is a remedy for constipation, dehydration, skin burns, healthy hair and nails, stomach disorders and much more.
Peas are spring favourites and popular with children. They love the vegetable in the form of a snack, in soups and in fillings. It is enriched with vitamin K, manganese, Vitamin B1 and fibre. Peas also provide necessary protein to your growing child.
These tubers can vary from mild to hot tasting. It is an amazing cleanser for the kidney. People with kidney stones drink juice of radishes for faster recovery. They have properties that can contribute in skin rebuilding and reduce blood pressure levels.
Has your child chewed beetroot and put on a vampire act, because its juice looks just like blood? Well, it not only looks like blood but this vegetable helps in the purification of blood. This, in turn, benefits your child with muscle oxygenation, reduced glucose levels and leaves her with a radiant glow.
Potato is often a misunderstood vegetable. It is often served in unhealthy forms such as french fries, nuggets, burger patties and chips. However, apart from providing carbohydrates to the body, a potato is a good source of vitamin C. Just the skin of the potato can contain more potassium than a full banana.
“Feeding veggies need not be a struggle. Here is how you can include them in your child's meals — make parathas stuffed with veggies or knead the dough with puree; offer in raw salads; make a variety of soups, cutlets or patties with veggies; and include them in sandwiches and rice preparations,” adds Priya.
Bell peppers are a great source of vitamin A. C, E and B6. The red bell peppers have the highest vitamin C content. They contain the phytochemical capsaicin, which reduces inflammation and, bad cholesterol and control diabetes. The red and green bell peppers are quite commonly used in Indian recipes.
How many of us knew this vegetable is actually called okra but has earned the name lady’s finger because of its shape? It is a summer veggie filled with nutrients like folic acid, fibre and vitamin B6. It is an ideal vegetable for kids with asthma. It is known to absorb water and hence prevents constipation in kids.
Adding to the potato family is the yam. It is a tuber that export enough antioxidants, vitamin B6 and energy to your child’s body. It is rich in copper and manganese, which helps in producing red blood cells. Including yam in your child’s regular diet helps him to have smooth bowel movements. .
Children are not much impressed by brinjal and it’s taste. The bitter vegetable has so many nutrients. It is low in calorie and rich in fibre. Nasunin is the compound that gives brinjal it’s bitter flavour. This is the antioxidant that protects our cell membranes of the brain. It is many other antimicrobial and antiviral properties that make this an ideal vegetable for growing children.
Tomatoes are an essential part of any Indian curry. They are also important nutrient source for children. Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin A which helps in stronger vision for children. It also consists of vitamin K which helps develop stronger bones. They are known to reduce lead toxicity and contribute to a strong immune system.
So, next time your little one is reluctant to try a vegetable, narrate to him the goodness that each of them contain and help him grow into an energetic and healthy individual.
With inputs from Priya Kathpal, Nutritionist and founder of Nutrify.
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