The Healthiest Foods for Kids

Sarah Gaur

October 12, 2022

Good nutrition is vital for kids as they grow and need the energy and nutrients for proper physical development. Children should eat a balanced diet according to their age to get enough energy to go about their day and not feel tired or lethargic. Choose the healthiest foods for your kids and make them healthy.

A balanced diet includes three food groups: fruits and vegetables, whole grains and proteins, and fats. Along with three whole meals, they should also have some healthy snacks during the day.

A balanced diet fulfils the requirement for essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals of a child Vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants and vitamins needed to perform daily life activities. At the same time, whole grains provide them with calories and energy to perform various activities. Proteins are the body’s building blocks, essential for healthy physical development.

Having an incomplete diet can result in delayed growth, compromised immune systems, and slow development of organs.

17 Healthy Foods and Snacks for Kids

1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the most nourishing and easy to cook foods. You can give it to your kids for breakfast and make it fun by adding cocoa or cinnamon for flavour. A bowl of oatmeal contains 6g of soluble fibre, which helps reduce blood sugar and insulin response. It also helps increase the number of good bacteria in the digestive tract. As a result, the digestive tract helps to absorb food much more effectively.

One bowl of oatmeal can keep you full for a long time and provide you with sufficient protein to go about your day. It is also rich in magnesium, zinc, folate, vitamin B12 and B5, essential nutrients for a growing child.

Nutritional Value of Oatmeal

One hundred grams of oatmeal contains:

  • Calories: 374 kCal
  • Fat: 7.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 62.8 g
  • Fibre: 9 g
  • Protein: 13.6 g

2. Greek Yoghurt

Greek yoghurt is full of proteins which are the essential elements for building the body and healthy growth. They are also a rich source of potassium; they can contain up to 156mg of potassium. Our bodies require potassium to maintain the sodium levels in the body.

It can also help to cover up your child’s calcium requirement. It is essential for growing children as it makes the bones strong and reduces the chances of unexpected fractures. At the same time, vitamin C, A and B complex ensure that the child gets a well-developed immune system.

You can give it to your kids in the morning for breakfast with some fruits or as an evening snack.

Nutritional Value of Greek Yoghurt

In a 100g pack of Greek yoghurt, there are:

  • Calories: 120 kcal
  • Fats: 8 g
  • Proteins: 5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6.4 g
  • Dietary fibre: 0

3. Pumpkin

The carotenoids in pumpkins give them their bright orange colour. They are present as vitamin A, a natural antioxidant and help boost immunity and improve eyesight.

Carotenoids are essential for the proper functioning of the cone cells present in the eyes. So that makes it an excellent food for growing kids to keep their eyesight good.

You can include it in your child’s diet in the form of cooked vegetables, soup or juice.

Nutritional Value of Pumpkin

One hundred grams of pumpkins contain:

  • Calories: 25 kCal
  • Fats: 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.6 g
  • Protein: 1.4 g
  • Fibre: 0.5 g

4. Beetroot

Beetroot is a highly nutritious and one of the healthiest food for kids. It is rich in vitamins A.B, C and E. They also contain minerals such as iron and magnesium. These nutrients can help prevent several stomach disorders in kids, especially diarrhea.

They are also a good source of iron and can help prevent and reduce the symptoms of anaemia. 

You can include beetroot in your child’s diet in the form of salad or juice.

Nutritional Value of Beetroot

One hundred grams of beetroots contain:

  • Calories: 43 kCal
  • Fats: 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.8 g
  • Protein: 1.7 g
  • Fibre: 3.5 g

5. Salmon

Salmon comes under fatty fish and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and B complex. These nutrients are essential for enhancing brain health and promoting healthy development. In addition, these amino acids and proteins help the brain cell function much more efficiently and improve brain function.

It is also a storehouse of fish protein which is healthy for growing kids and provides a lot of nutrition and energy. Protein helps to build muscles and keep them strong. It is beneficial because the bones in growing kids can be a little fragile. You can cook the fish and serve it with veggies for dinner.

Nutritional Value of Salmon

One hundred grams of salmon contains:

  • Calories: 127 kcal
  • Fats: 4.4 g
  • Protein: 20.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fibre:0g

6. Kale

Kale is a good source of vitamin A and plays a vital role in a child’s growth and development. It promotes healthy cell growth. In addition, it is also rich in vitamin C, A and K, which ensures that the child has a very well-developed immune system. These vitamins have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that boost the immune system against infections.

You can include it in salads or as a kale smoothie or make kale chips!

Nutritional Value of Kale

100 g of kale contain:

  • Calories: 49 kCal
  • Carbohydrate: 8.8 g
  • Protein: 4.3 g
  • Fats: 0.9 g
  • Fibre: 3.6 g

7. Spinach

Spinach is a very healthy vegetable and should be a part of every child’s diet. It is a rich source of folate and iron, essential for various bodily functions. Iron makes up for a significant portion of the haemoglobin and helps transport fresh oxygen to the healthy cells and organs in the body.

Having an iron-rich diet is extremely important, especially for growing girls. That is because it can help prevent anaemia and other disorders. 

You can cook it, make juice, or use it as a salad.

Nutritional Value of Spinach

100 g of spinach contains:

  • Calories: 26 kCal
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Fats: 0.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 2.9 g
  • Fibre: 2.5 g

8. Eggs

Eggs are very versatile, and you can cook them in many different ways. For example, you can boil them, make omelettes or sunny side up. In addition, they are a rich source of protein that can help strengthen your child’s body, improve their concentration and focus better. Overall can be called one of the most healthiest food for kids. They can also be a good source of vitamin B complex, which protects the brain and enhances mood. It is readily absorbed in the body and provides many health benefits.

Nutritional Value of Eggs

1 large egg contains:

  • Calories: 77 kCal
  • Fats: 5.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.6 g
  • Proteins: 6.3 g
  • Fibre: 0

9. Tomatoes

They are rich in calcium and vitamin K. These nutrients are essential for strong and healthy bones. The body also needs them to repair itself after any injury. So consuming tomatoes has many long-term health benefits.

Tomato contains vitamin C, which helps to strengthen the immune system. In addition, its antioxidant properties help prevent the body from a common cold.

You can use tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, salad, dips, etc.  

Nutritional Value of Tomato

1 large tomato contains :

  • Calories: 36 kcal
  • Protein: 1.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6.6 g
  • Fibre: 1.1 g
  • Fat: 0.4 g

10. Orange

Oranges are rich in dietary fibre and can help your child reduce constipation symptoms. It can have up to 2.4g of fibre per 100g. Having a healthy gut also helps to keep other disorders at bay.

In addition, they are also an excellent source of calcium, manganese, and magnesium. These minerals can prevent the risk of rickets development in kids. 

You can give orange juice to kids for breakfast or just as a fruit for evening snacks.

Nutritional Value of Orange

1 large orange contains:

  • Calories: 88 kCal
  • Fat: 0.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20.1 g
  • Protein: 1.3 g
  • Fibre: 2 g

11. Banana

Bananas are a rich source of vitamin B6, which is essential for many reasons. It helps maintain the nerves, prevents anaemia, supports heart health, and keeps the arteries dilated.

It is also rich in minerals like iron, potassium and calcium, which helps to keep the bones strong. Potassium also helps regulate the heartbeat and maintain cell health for various life activities.

You can include bananas in your child’s diet in the form of a smoothie, fruit bowl just as an evening snack.

Nutritional Value of Banana

1  medium-sized banana contains:

  • Calories: 158 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 37 g
  • Dietary fibre: 2.5 g
  • Fat: 0.4 g
  • Protein: 1.6 g

12. Milk

Milk is considered a superfood and is essential for growing children. It has calcium and vitamin D, which helps develop bone strength and keep you strong. It is also rich in carbohydrates which provides your kids with energy. In addition, it is also an excellent source of protein which is the building block for a healthy and strong body. Studies suggest that children who drink the most milk gain the most weight and have excess energy after consumption.

Nutritional Value of Milk

100 ml of milk contains:

  • Calories: 150kCal
  • Carbohydrates: 12g
  • Protein: 8g
  • Calcium: 300mg
  • Vitamin D: 100mcg
  • Potassium: 385mg
  • Vitamin A: 300mcg
  • Vitamin C: 2.4mg
  • Sodium: 120mg

13. Walnuts

Walnuts can be very nutritious as they contain specific proteins required for a healthy brain function. It improves memory and helps to keep the brain cells healthy, which increases cell life. In addition, it contains polyphenols which act as antioxidants. These antioxidants help to remove free radicals, which can cause inflammation.

You can include these nuts in your child’s diet in the form of a trail mix or give them as an evening snack.

Nutritional Value of Walnuts

Walnuts contain 65% fat and 15% protein content. Being a tree nut, it has negligible carbohydrate content. The carbohydrate in walnuts is primarily due to their fibre content. 

100 grams of walnuts are as follows:-

  • Calories – 687 kcal
  • Protein – 15.6 g
  • Carbohydrates – 11 g
  • Fibre – 6.7 g 
  • Fat – 64.5  g

14. Carrots

Carrots are a good source of vitamin A and help to improve eyesight. Our body requires vitamin A to maintain the cone cells present in the eyes. The beta carotene present in carrots also helps to prevent the risk of muscle degeneration in kids.

According to research, it can improve eyesight and prevent the loss of night vision and night blindness.

You can give carrots to kids with some peanut butter or mayo dip. You can include it in salads or sandwiches, or give it to them as juice. Versatile, delicious and one of the healthiest food for kids.

Nutritional Value of Carrots

One hundred grams of raw carrots contain:

  • Calorie: 48 kcal 
  • Protein – 0.9 g
  • Carbohydrates – 10.6 g
  • Dietary fibre – 4.4 g
  • Fat – 0.2 g

15. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is one of the most delicious and healthy foods for kids. The calories in peanut butter provide energy to the kids and keep them active. It also prevents them from feeling tired or lethargic. In addition, peanut butter is also a good source of protein and helps build the muscle mass that growing kids require.

Nutritional Value of Peanut Butter

1 tbsp (16.5 g) of peanut butter contains-

  • Calories – 95 kcal
  • Protein – 3.5 g
  • Carbs – 4 g
  • Fats – 8 g
  • Fibre – 1 g

16. Apples

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Yes. It is accurate because it is one of the healthiest foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Your child’s body requires these minerals and vitamins to build a healthy body and fight infections or pathogens. In addition, apples contain insoluble fibre, which helps provide bulk for the stool and helps to keep the gut healthy.

It also has many antioxidant properties. The skin of the apple contains antioxidants and helps to fight the free radicals, which might cause oxidative stress in the body. Getting rid of these antioxidants ensures that the healthy cells in the body get all the oxygen they need. So, yes they are the healthiest food for kids that one can find.

Nutritional Value of Apples

1 large apples contain:

  • Calories: 132 kCal
  • Fats: 1.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 29.9 g
  • Protein: 0.5 g
  • Fibre: 7.1 g

17. Mung Beans

Mung beans are one of the healthiest foods for your kid. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and proteins, which are essential for the overall growth of your babies. In addition, they are easy to digest. They protect and heal the liver while are excellent for the immune system. Furthermore, it is an excellent immune system stimulant.

Nutritional Value of Mung Beans

One hundred grams of mung beans contain:

  • Calories: 334 kCal
  • Fat: 1.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 56.7 g
  • Fibre: 16.7 g
  • Protein: 24 g

Foods to Avoid in Your Child’s Diet

The Healthiest Foods for Growing Kids- HealthifyMe

1. Fast Foods

Fries, finger foods, and burgers are prevalent snacks for kids. Although children find them delicious, they are deficient in nutritional value. As a result, they can lead to unnecessary weight gain and provide no energy or nutrition. These foods also contain excess salt, which may increase sodium intake in the body. Therefore, you should keep such foods away from your child’s diet.

2. Cold Drinks

Cold drinks are nothing but liquid calories. They are high in sugar and do not have any nutritional benefits. They can also result in poor dental and oral health and cause severe tooth decay.

3. Sugary Cereals

Cereals are one of the most popular breakfasts. It is quick and easy, but most cereals are full of sugars and preservatives, making them an unhealthy breakfast choice for kids.

The Bottom Line

Kids in their growing age need a well-balanced diet to get all the essential nutrients and minerals. In addition, their bodies require these nutrients and minerals for healthy development. Lack of nutrition can lead to many disorders like stunted growth and weak immune systems. In addition, a weak immune system may make them prone to many diseases. Therefore, it is essential to add a variety of fruits and veggies to your child’s diet to provide them with all these nutrients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What are healthy foods that kids can eat?

A. Kids need a balanced diet full of all essential minerals and vitamins. A balanced diet will ensure proper overall growth and prevent various disorders. Therefore, you should give them a balanced meal that includes fruits, vegetables and cereals. The best foods can be fresh fruits, yoghurt, eggs, milk etc. 

Q. How do kids eat meals?

A. Parents plan their meals. From the foods that a parent offers, the kid gets to choose. However, most of the time, it’s the only choice. So, you need to be careful. Serve the right portions, give them a balanced meal. In addition, schedule their meals so that they eat something every 3-4 hours.

Q. Which fruit is best for a child?

A. All the fruits that contain essential minerals and vitamins are the best for a child. However, bananas, apples, oranges are some of the most nutritious fruits you can include in your child’s meals. 

Q. What are the three foods to avoid?

A. You should avoid giving processed foods, high sugar foods and cold drinks to your kids. These foods have zero nutritional values and may harm your child due to excess salt, sugar and unhealthy fats.

Q. What are the top 3 superfoods?

A. Several foods can act as a superfood for kids. A child’s body requires essential minerals, vitamins, proteins and minerals for proper growth. For example, salmon, milk, and eggs are superfoods full of vitamins and minerals needed for the body’s healthy functioning. In addition, fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables can also be highly beneficial.

Q. How much vegetables should a child eat in a day?

A. As per the USDA, the daily recommended amount of vegetables for a child is:

  • 2 to 3 years: 1 to 1½ cups
  • 4 to 8 years: 1½  to 2½ cups
  • 9 to 13 years (girls): 2 to 4 cups
  • 9 to 13 years (boys): 2½ to 4 cups
  • 14 to 18 years (girls): 2½ to 4 cups
  • 14 to 18 years (boys): 3 to 4 cups

Q. What should a 7-year-old eat for breakfast?

A. A 7-year-old child should have a balanced breakfast that includes fruit, some protein in the form of eggs or yoghurt and some carbohydrates. It will keep him full and energised for the day. In addition, these foods will provide your child with a balanced diet.

Q. How many eggs should a 6-year-old eat?

A. 1-2 eggs a day are considered healthy for a 6-year-old. Although overconsumption may not have severe effects, it may lead to some digestive issues.

Q. What should a 6-year-old eat for lunch?

A. Lunch for a 6-year-old should include one serving of vegetables and carbohydrates and pair it with some hydrating fruit or drink so that they can fuel up for the rest of the day. 

About the Author

A nutritionist by profession and a writer by passion, Sarah holds an MSc. in Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics from Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences, Pune. She believes in changing lives, one meal at a time with a holistic approach towards overall healing. Her mission is to modify the nutritional habits and behaviors of our next generation to optimize their long-term health and reduce the likelihood of metabolic diseases. Apart from working, she loves to sing, swirl scribble and spread smiles.

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