We’ve all heard and seen the term ‘superfood’. But is it purely marketing hype, or is there really something super about these foods?
There’s no set criteria, yet the term ‘superfood’ is generally used to refer to any food that’s especially nutrient-rich and therefore very beneficial for your health.
While you can just about guarantee that any fruit or vegetable is a healthy, nutritious option for your little ones, serving foods that are known to be higher in essential vitamins and minerals is a great way to give your children the best start in life.
Vitamins and minerals help your child’s body function at its best. Some vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they are stored in the fats in your body. Other vitamins, such as vitamin C, are water-soluble; any excess gets excreted in your urine - which is why you need to consume them daily. Minerals, including calcium and iron, will help your children develop strong bones and teeth and convert food into energy.
Superfoods and your children
It’s important to serve your children nutritious, healthy foods in order to give them a great start in life - so they can thrive and be the best versions of themselves.
Serving a healthy diet containing superfoods will help your kids to:
Eat less unhealthy food – by serving your children healthy food more often than not, they’ll be eating less unhealthy food!
Consume enough iron – iron is an important nutrient once babies start eating solids as breast milk and formula don’t provide enough.
Develop a healthy immune system – a healthy diet will help your children fight colds and infections better.
Prevent fussiness – getting your children interested in and excited about eating a range of healthy foods at an early age is important to help prevent fussy eating.
Get excited about the health benefits of food – your children will come to learn about different foods, as well as the importance of good nutrition and cooking, from a young age.
Examples of ‘super’ foods
If you’re looking for super food inspiration, here are some ideas to get you started – and remember that you can mix and match these foods in purees, mashes and casseroles if you’re just starting solids with your little ones:
Broccoli – a fantastic source of vitamin C, folic acid, iron, potassium and beta-carotene.
Sweet potatoes – a healthier option than regular potatoes, sweet potatoes contain good amounts of vitamin C, potassium and fibre.
Carrots – renowned for helping you ‘see in the dark’, carrots are high in beta-carotene helps promote eye health.
Spinach – containing vitamins C and K, lutein and potassium, spinach can be easily blended with other fruits and vegetables.
Bananas – packed full of fibre, potassium, manganese and vitamins C and B6, bananas are a great portable snack.
Blueberries – these tasty little berries contain high amounts of vitamin C, beta-carotene and a pigment called anthocyanin, which is a powerful antioxidant.
Apricots – high in fibre, iron, potassium and beta-carotene, apricots are a lovely sweet snack for your little.
Tomatoes – high in vitamins A and C, tomatoes are a versatile snack that can be eaten raw or cooked (and technically a fruit, though they taste more like a vegetable!)
In addition to eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, your children also need to consume iron regularly – and red meat is one of the best ways to maintain your child’s iron intake. Baby rice is also a fantastic first food as it’s easy to digest, gluten-free and can be eaten alone or blended with fruits and vegetables.
Remember, you may not be able to stick to a superfood diet 100% of the time – but if you make the effort to feed your children healthy foods more often than not, you can be confident you’re helping set them up for a long future of good health.
About the author - Michelle Guillemard
Michelle is the President of the Australasian Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and is the Director of Purely Content, a health & medical writing business based in Sydney, Australia. She has a BA (Media & Communications) from the University of Melbourne, is a contributor to the European Medical Writers Association Journal and conducts regular training workshops on medical writing-related topics for AMWA. Michelle lives in Sydney with her husband and two daughters.