Saturday, April 9, 2011

What should children eat

Health is the most important asset for both parents and children, what children eat affects their health both now and in the future. They need a balanced diet to grow properly, keep healthy and fight off illnesses. A nutritious diet means your children will:
■ have plenty of energy
■ feel bright and alert
■ concentrate better at school
■ suffer fewer illnesses
■ have clear skin, bright eyes and shiny hair.

Changing children’s eating habits not only improves their health but also their behaviour, mood and learning success at school. Primary schools that belong to the government’s national healthy schools programme where pupils are better fed and get more exercise, make greater academic progress and outperform others in national tests in reading, maths and science.
Grains and potatoes

4–6 portions daily
Bread, pasta, rice, noodles, breakfast cereals, porridge oats, crackers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips and yams. Benefits: Rich energy sources, providing carbohydrates, B vitamins, iron and other minerals. Try to
make at least half of your child’s portions wholegrain rather than ‘white’, i.e. wholemeal bread, wholegrain breakfast cereals and wholewheat pasta. These foods are an important source of fibre, which helps to
keep the digestive system healthy and prevent constipation.
Fruit and vegetables
Five portions daily
All types of fruit, vegetables and salad. Fruit juice and smoothies can count as one portion towards the five-a-day target. Benefits: Rich sources of many vitamins and minerals and other plant nutrients (phytonutrients) that are important for health and fighting off illnesses. Eating more fruit and veg means taking in more vitamins, such as vitamin C for a strong immune system, and minerals, such as magnesium for healthy bones. Try to include as many different types of fruit and vegetables as possible and mix colours for maximum nutritional benefits.
Calcium-rich foods
Two portions daily
Milk, soya milk (fortified with calcium), cheese, yoghurt, fromage frais, tofu, tinned fish with edible bones (e.g. sardines), dark green leafy vegetables. Benefits: Rich sources of calcium, which is important for building healthy bones and teeth. These foods also supply protein and B vitamins. If your children don’t like dairy foods, make sure you offer alternative calcium sources.
Protein-rich foods
Two portions daily
Lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, and soya and quorn products. Benefits: These foods are important sources of protein, which is needed for growth, repair and development, as well as good amounts of B vitamins, iron and zinc.
Healthy fats and oils
At least one portion daily
Nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, Brazils, pine nuts), seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower), seed and nut oils (e.g. olive, rapeseed, sunflower) and oily fish (e.g. sardines, mackerel, pilchards). Benefits: Excellent sources of ‘good’ fats: the omega-3 and omega-6 fats, and monounsaturated fats, essential for health.

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