Written by Shirley Johanna and published on 01 June 2021.
Dried fruits and nuts are highly rich in nutrients and come with a host of health benefits for kids. Let's look at the top 10 dried fruits for babies and toddlers and their respective health benefits
Dried fruits and nuts are called the powerhouse of nutrition, as they are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, antioxidants and dietary fibre. When incorporated into your child's diet, they can play a vital role in boosting immunity.
Dried fruits are either dried naturally in the sun or using processing machines. Some of the commonly eaten dried fruits are raisins, dates, figs, apricots, prunes, kiwi, papaya and sweet lime.
Nuts are fruits with a hard shell and seeds that are edible. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashew nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, chestnuts and macadamia nuts are some of the popular ones.
Dried fruits and nuts can be introduced into your child's diet when she is around 7 to 9 months of age. But it should be done in the form of paste or powder to avoid any choking hazards. Dried fruits like dates, prunes and apricots can be cut into smaller pieces before given as snacks for toddlers. Children can be given whole dried fruits and nuts after the age of five years. However, it is still advisable to keep an eye on them to make sure they chew them well.
For children older than five, these make a quick and healthy snack option. Raw, dry-roasted and unsalted nuts are the healthiest, and it is best to avoid nuts and dried fruits with added salt or sugar.
Also, when you introduce nuts to your child's diet, you will also need to consider the possibilities of allergens that your child may react to. So keep a lookout for that and consult your doctor should you have any concerns.
Getting your child to eat healthily is extremely important for his overall growth and development. Dried fruits and nuts are highly rich in nutrients and come with a host of health benefits for your child.
Wondering which nuts and dry fruits are good for the health of children? Here's a list of the top 10 dried fruits and nuts and their respective health benefits.
Almonds are rich in phosphorus, which helps strengthen both bones and teeth. Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, two key nutrients that can support healthy brain function. Further, they are rich in dietary fiber that curbs overeating and unhealthy snacking.
Nutritive value of almonds (1 serving, 2-3 almonds)
Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which play a crucial role in your child's brain development. They are also high in minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc.
Nutritive value of walnuts (1 serving, 7 walnuts)
3. Pistachios or pistas
Pistachios are a good source of essential vitamins such as vitamin A, C, E, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine and folate. Each of these vitamins are essential and play an important role in maintaining the health of your child.
Nutritive value of pistas (1 serving, 1-2 handfuls)
4. Cashew nuts
This buttery nut contains high levels of antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes. They also contain high levels of magnesium that contribute to bone growth.
Nutritive value of cashew nut (1 serving, 4-5 cashews)
This fiber-packed nut aids in digestion and facilitates regular bowel movements. For children who suffer from constipation, pecans can help relieve the condition. As a good source of vitamin B3, pecans help reduce fatigue in children.
Nutritive value of pecans (1 serving, 15 pecan halves )
6. Dried apricots
Dried apricots are high in dietary fiber, potassium, copper, niacin, iron and vitamin E that are essential for a child's development. This dried fruit is particularly beneficial to eye health because it contains the highest amount of vitamin A (3604 IU/100 g).
Nutritive value of dried apricots (1 serving, 8 halves)
7. Dried prunes
Prunes contain high levels of antioxidants called phenols, which protect the child's cell membranes from damage caused by free radicals. They are also a good source of vitamin C which helps boost the child's immune system.
Nutritive value of prunes (1 serving, 3 prunes)
Dates are packed with energy and are a good source of minerals like calcium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and zinc. It contains the highest amounts of iron. This helps prevent anemia, an iron deficiency in children. They also contain vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A, B6 and vitamin K.
Nutritive value of dates (1 serving, 1/2 cup)
Raisins are a great alternative to sugary treats which children usually like to eat. Raisins contain antibacterial properties that can reduce oral bacteria that contribute to dental cavities. Raisins are natural laxatives that help improve digestion and bowel movements.
Nutritive value of raisins (1 serving, 1/4 cup)
Figs are a good source of calcium and phosphorus, which fosters the formation of bones. They are also rich in fiber and hence helps in easy digestion. Studies have shown that figs possess certain liver-protecting properties and help prevent jaundice, which is common among infants and children.
Nutritive value of fig (1 serving, 1/4 cup)
Dried fruits and nuts are highly nutritious and contain proteins, fibers, antioxidants and healthy fats. Including them in the diet is essential for good health and to reduce the risk of certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and renal problems. In children, consuming dry fruits is beneficial in preventing gastric problems, weight gain and dental issues. It also helps in the overall growth and development of children and boosts their immunity.
Dried fruits can be consumed at any time of the day, but the best time would be in the morning along with breakfast to obtain the maximum benefits. This helps to keep away fatigue and regulates blood pressure. However, it is advisable to avoid eating nuts at night as it can cause indigestion.
Can your child have endless bowls of salted cashews? No, like everything else, even dried fruits and nuts need to be eaten within a limit. Here is the list of the recommended dose of dried fruits and nuts.
|1-2 years: 2-3 nuts and 1-2 dried fruits/day|
|3-5 years: 2-3 nuts and 2-3 dried fruits/day|
|6-10 years: 4-5 nuts and 2-3 dried fruits/day|
|11+ years: 6-8 nuts and 3-4 dried fruits/day|
Yes, eating dry fruits on an empty stomach is beneficial. On an empty stomach, the nuts are easily digested, and you can get the complete nutritious benefits of this mineral and protein-rich food.
Dried fruits contain higher calories than fresh fruits. Some dried fruits are sweetened with added sugar. It is easier to consume large amounts of dried fruits and therefore the chances of ingesting a higher amount of calories.
Providing healthy snacks for children can help them develop good eating habits that last a lifetime. Dried fruits and nuts are smart snack choices that are not only delicious but also nutritious. So, what more does a parent want when her child is eating healthy? Don't forget to pack nuts and dried fruits in your child's snack box or give it as an evening treat!