Most toddlers become fussy eaters during their growing age and this sometimes can lead to nutrient gaps in their diet. Fruits and vegetables form an important part of a healthy diet and provide your growing toddler with many essential nutrients. Nutrition experts recommend five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day for toddlers and adults
Fruits can be incorporated as purees, shakes, smoothies to begin with and given till toddlerhood. Fruits and vegetables apart from offering variety in colour and texture have various health benefits along with them. Different hues and colours of fruits and vegetables are due to a range of phytochemicals and other pigments (beneficial plant substances) present in them. These pigments help in fighting and preventing various diseases and offer many positive benefits.
Nutrients and Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables provide your growing child with essential nutrients that benefit her in numerous ways:
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is also important for healthy vision and cell growth throughout the body. Vitamin A (from beta-carotene) is a protective antioxidant that helps in supporting a healthy immune system.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a protective antioxidant, which is an essential building block for your baby’s natural defense system. Vitamin C keeps the gums healthy and helps in the absorption of iron when eaten with iron-rich foods.
Fiber: Consuming fruits and vegetables also contributes to the fiber content of the diet, which is essential for a healthy gastro-intestinal system.
Phytonutrients: Phytonutrients (such as beta-carotene and lycopene) act as antioxidants that are easily absorbed in the body. They promote health, prevent diseases and are extremely beneficial for the growth and immunity of your child .
Potassium: Potassium is an essential mineral that is required for maintaining the fluid balance in your child’s body.
Iron and Folic Acid: Fruits and vegetables like green leafy vegetables etc like……..are also rich sources of iron, folic acid (both required for the formation of hemoglobin and RBC in the body and prevention of anemia).
Calcium : calcium helps in formation of bone, muscle contraction, blood coagulation and other important functions.
Benefits of various colours?
Different coloured fruits and vegetables have different pigments which have various benefits, in order to receive all the goodness from fruits and vegetables, you should include a variety of coloured fruits and vegetables to your child’s diet as well your own.
Yellow/Orange Fruits. Include oranges, lemons, pumpkins , muskmelon, peaches, apricots and sweet lime to get the benefit of Vitamin C and betacarotene etc It boosts the immune system, slows down the aging process and helps in maintaining good eyesight. These fruits help to strengthen bones and teeth, heal wounds and keep skin healthy and glowing.
Red Fruits and Vegetables. Treat your child with fresh and juicy red fruits and vegetables. Lycopene is found in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit and anthocyanins are found in fruits like berries, cherries, strawberries, cranberries and red apples. These are powerful antioxidants that help combat free radicals in the body.
Green coloured Fruits and Vegetables: Encourage your baby to eat green coloured fruits and vegetables because they contain the various phytochemicals like kiwi, capsicum, pears, broccoli, cabbage , green leafy vegetables and Brussels.
Blue and Purple Fruits and Vegetables : Let your baby indulge in bright blue and purple fruits and vegetables. Berries, dried plums, raisins, plums, black currants, purple grapes and eggplant are packed with Anthocyanins and Phenolics. which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
White coloured Fruits and Vegetables: White coloured vegetables vegetables and fruits like garlic, chives, scallion, leeks, cauliflower and onion increase the body’s ability to fight infections.
Ways to include 5 a day in your diet ?
Ensure optimal health and growth of your baby by including various fruits and vegetables in her diet. You can accomplish this only by increasing the frequency of her meals. However, the following tips may help you to increase the fruit and vegetable intake of your baby while maintaining balance in her diet and providing her with variety.
Be Patient With New Flavours: Offer new flavours along with familiar favourites. It may take several attempts before your child adapts to different tastes and starts liking some fruits and vegetables.
Observe Your Baby’s Choice: Respect your child’s personal preferences. No one fruit or vegetable is going to make or break your baby’s diet.
Include Fruits and vegetables in different formats: You can include fruits and vegetables in all the major meals and snacks in various forms. Fruits and vegetables may be given fresh, frozen or dried, and may be whole, cut-up . Fruits in the form of smoothies, shakes, interesting salads can be given and vegetables in paranthas, pulao, raita, cutlets etc can be given to offer variety to the toddler.
Give Fruit or Vegetable Juices: You can also give fruits and vegetables in the form of juices, but juices do not contain fibre, so the intake should be restricted to not more than ½ cup to 3/4 cup of juice a day. Choose unsweetened, without artificial ingredients or 100% fruit or vegetable juice.
Add all the colours of the rainbow to your baby’s diet by incorporating as many fruits and vegetables in her platter as possible. This ensures that your baby receives optimum nutrition along with a wide range of phytonutrients that builds her immunity and makes her healthy.