The year is coming to an end, in a few days we'd be making new resolutions and attempt to undo all that we have been doing wrong all this while. While you are thinking of some new ones for yourself, it is a good idea to make necessary intervention into your child's life too, especially your child's diet.
Nuts are natural treasure troves of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, protein and fibre, which help children grow, develop and learn. Examples of nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Peanuts are technically a legume, but they are commonly referred to as a nut as they have a similar nutritional composition.
1 serving of nuts can provide:
- 36% of a child's daily vitamin E requirement
- 13% of a child's daily fibre requirement
- 4g protein
Why should you include nuts in your child's diet:
Regularly eating nuts as part of an overall healthy diet can help to reduce cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, maintain regular bowel movements and even support bone health. Additionally, it may do wonders for children too. Here are some incredible reason why they should be part of your child's diet:
1. Nuts are good sources of vitamins like vitamin B, E, niacin, folate, protein and manganese and are packed with many important minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
2. Nuts are heart-healthy because they're a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids. Few nuts like walnuts, almonds etc contains a good amount of omega-3 fats. Considered super healthy for brain development in children, nuts also help keep their immune system strong.
(Also Read: Here's How You Can Store Nuts For Long-Term Use)
3. Nuts make a perfect snack. A handful of nuts provide you with good amounts of energy. Also dubbed as a source of good fats, these nuts can be added to a child's daily diet. And the best part, it does not require any skill or time to fix this yummy, crunchy, healthy treat in snack boxes. Parents can buy a healthy trail mix or prepare one at home and store. Most commercial trail mixes have a lot of added sugar, so do not forget to check the food label for added sugar content.
4. They can be eaten in various forms like roasted or boiled and many products made from peanuts like peanut butter, peanut oil, peanut/almond flour, dry roasted peanuts (snacks) are readily available. Walnuts, almonds, pistachios can be added to a daily bowl of porridges, cereals or healthy desserts too.
(Also Read: What is the Best Time to Consume Nuts? We Find Out!)
Side-Effects Of Nut Consumption
Nuts can also cause some side effects. Excessive intake may lead to gas and heartburn. So portion control is important. A fistful of mixed nuts or 5 soaked almonds or 1 walnut is a good amount to begin with.
Peanut allergy is also very common and is a very serious food allergy that a child can develop. It's best to take a test if you suspect you have a peanut allergy. Children with peanut allergies should be cautious and check the nutritional label or the menu before buying any product or eating a dish in a restaurant.
When And How To Introduce Nuts To A Child?
Nevertheless, nuts can be a choking hazard, so make sure your child is able to handle the texture before giving nuts as a snack. A good age is when child starts handling hard food and is comfortable with the texture. Most manage well after 3 years of age. For children between 2 to 3 years of ages, ground peanut/ almond flour etc can be added in different cereals.
Also, as you add this perfect snack to your Lil'ones diet, make sure you add a glass or two of water in addition to what the child usually takes to prevent constipation that might come along with increased dietary fat and fiber from nuts.
About Author: Pariksha Rao is a Co-Founder and Chief Nutrition Office (CNO) LIL' Goodness & sCOOLMEAL.
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