Superfoods for Super Kids!
Updated: Jul 25, 2018
Monday, February 12, 2018 - Lydia Phua, thatswholesome.com
You have probably heard of the term ‘super foods’ as health and fitness have become the trending topics of our modern society. So what is all the fuss with these ‘superfoods’? Can these superfoods actually grant us immortality, or at least guarantee us to be sickness free? Should we feed our kids these super foods to make them healthier, or is it just another health fad to market yet another food product that promises us all the good stuff? Super foods can be confusing.
In recent years, certain foods have been referred to as ‘super’ because they contain an array of nutrients, which made them a bit more superior than other foods. Instead of calling them ‘super’, these foods are actually functional foods. Health Canada defines functional foods as a ‘type of food that is similar in appearance to conventional food, consumed as part of the usual diet but with physiological benefits or to reduce the risk of a chronic disease’. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) defines functional foods as ‘foods or dietary components that may provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition’. So now that we know what ‘super foods’ really are, let’s take a look at a few examples that you can easily incorporate into yours and your children’s diet to naturally boost their and your daily nutrient intake, ultimately improving everyone’s health.
1. Nuts and seeds
Tree nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and macadamias are full of omega-6 fatty acids, protein and fiber. Seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds are also similar in terms of its nutrient profile, by having substantial amounts of omega-6 as well as protein and fiber. Omega-6 has been proven to promote cardiovascular health and lowering the risk of diabetes. (Kendall, 2010). Also being high in fiber and protein, nuts and seeds make great snacks
that can keep your tummy from rumbling for a longer time. Adding a small handful of nuts and seeds into a bowl of dried fruit would create a snack that is both savory and sweet. Perfect for a mini snack for your children’s lunchbox.
When I think of berries, the word antioxidant would almost instantly come into mind. Berries come in so many different shapes, colors and flavors but they all have something in common, they are all packed up with antioxidants. Blueberries in particular have been associated with one of the highest amounts of antioxidants and is regarded as a quintessential functional food. (Patel, 2014). What’s so special about antioxidants? Well, antioxidants in general have been linked to reducing the risk of cancer, supporting skin health and boosting the immune system. Blueberries and nuts go hand in hand as a nutrient rich snack, or why not make some blueberry pancakes for your little ones’ breakfast.
We have all heard the age old saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Well this saying is still relevant till today. Apples may be one of the commonest fruits we can think of, but they pass as a functional food as well. Research has shown that not only do these underestimated fruits have high antioxidant activity, but they have been linked to strengthening our heart and brain health. Regular consumption of apples may reduce the risk of heart disease and improve cognitive function. (Hyson, 2011). Apples are one of the most convenient fruits to eat, you could add an apple into your child’s lunchbox every day or make them an apple snack. One of my favorites is sliced apples with peanut butter as a spread!
4. Oily fish
You may be wondering, why oily? We are of course talking about the good oils, the ones that can be found in salmon, mackerel and cod. These types of oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and improve the development and functioning of the brain and nervous system. (Patterson, 2011). These good fatty acids have also been helpful in improving skin health in some people. You could serve the fish grilled with a side of fresh veggies, rice or sweet potatoes or have it the Asian way, steamed with a warm bowl of rice. Either way, having a
portion of oily fish regularly could possibly make your kids smarter with strong healthy hearts.
Lydia is a practising Nutritionist and a member of the Nutrition Society Malaysia. She has helped many individuals from different health backgrounds in the past. She is currently working on a nutrition and health website www.thatswholesome.com and teaches kids biology during the day. In the meantime, log on to thats_wholesome on Instagram for more nutritional inspiration.