When children are very little, it is essential to provide them with all the necessary nutrients they need to grow adequately. No mother will want her child to have stunted growth or to be impaired in one way or the other. When children are growing, it is important for them to get enough vitamins and minerals which will ensure optimal growth. Adequate amounts of nutrients for children can be gotten from a balanced diet, but most times children need more intake of vitamins and minerals.
Fresh vegetables are packed with almost all the essential nutrients needed by children. Vegetables are very good sources of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibres and antioxidants. Vegetables are low in calorie and fats but are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, beta-carotene, vitamin B-complex, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K.
Vegetables are enriched with soluble and non-soluble dietary fibre such as cellulose, hemi-cellulose, pectin, gum etc. These substances help to absorb excess water in the colon and give the fecal matter a good amount of moisture to help in the smooth passage of stool out of the body.
BENEFITS OF VEGETABLES FOR CHILDREN
- Help to Improve Nutrition
When children are in the growing stage, their body requires good nutrition. Vegetables which contain multitude of vitamins, minerals and other healthy compounds are necessary to improve the nutritional health of children. Vitamin C which helps to boost the immune system, is contained in vegetables. Also, vegetables like spinach are good sources of vitamin A and Iron. Iron helps in the prevention of anaemia. Consuming vegetables daily will provide a wide range of nutrients which is essential to keep children healthy.
- Improves Digestive Health
The high fibre content of vegetables helps the digestive system to perform properly. Children are more prone to getting constipation than adults and this constipation can be eased by eating vegetables, which are high in fibre. When fibre passes through the digestive system, it absorbs water and expands. This expansion triggers regular bowel movement and relieves the constipation.
- Increase Immunity
Regular consumption of recommended amounts of vegetables helps in enhancing the microflora of the gut. A healthy gut microbiota helps to maintain the immune system. A proper functioning immune system will help combat various diseases and infections that children face as they grow.
- Decreases The Rate of Obesity
Vegetables are low in fat and calories, so encouraging children to eat vegetables instead of sugary snacks and fast foods can help them avoid obesity. When children are overweight, it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and respiratory problems. Consuming more of vegetables will help reduce the risk of obesity and give children a healthier body weight.
- Improves Bone Health
Several studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between good bone health and consumption of high amount of vegetables. Vegetables help to enhance the uptake of potassium into the body. Potassium is important in improving bone health. Vegetables also contain vital minerals, vitamins and antioxidants which can also help in maintaining bone health.
- Improves School Performance
Regular consumption of vegetables may also lead to better school grades. Regular vegetable consumption has been attributed to high levels of school performance. Studies have shown that regular consumption of fast foods, sweet and soft drinks have negative effect on school performance. It is more advisable to give children diet that is packed with vegetables to help support proper brain functioning.
To in cooperate vegetables into your childrens diet, you need to select seasonal varieties of vegetables because they are fresh and readily available. Alternatively, you can make vegetables into juice or use canned or dried vegetables. Types of vegetables for children include; spinach, asparagus, broccoli, peas, green beans, tomato, lettuce, mushroom, cauliflowers, brussels sprout, turnips, carrots and cherry tomatoes.
A challenge usually encountered by parents is convincing thier children to eat the adequate vegetables. Here are few tips that can help motivate children to eat vegetables:
- Take your children along to the market whem shopping for grocery. This serves as an opportunity to show them the variety of vegetables that could be included in their diet. Ask them their opinion and give them opportunity to make their choice of vegetables. That way they can eat them when you prepare the dishes.
- Do not say no to vegetables in front of your children. Be a role model to them. Eat a variety of vegetable along side your children, this makes them more relaxed and convinced to eat the vegetables.
- Present the vegetables in a very attractive manner to your children. This is very important, so experiment interesting ways of cooking vegetables and use different colours of vegetables in cooking dishes.
image source: webmd