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Healthy food options for kids

Snacking in children is inevitable and parents need not worry about it or stop their kid from eating snacks. There is no evidence that snacking is unhealthy as long as the choice is appropriate and healthy.

health and fitness Updated: Apr 28, 2013 01:16 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

Is snacking in between meals a healthy option for kids? If yes, what are the preferred choices?
Snacking in children is inevitable and parents need not worry about it or stop their kid from eating snacks. There is no evidence that snacking is unhealthy as long as the choice is appropriate and healthy. These snacks would include fruits, nuts (almonds and peanuts), sprouts, vegetable frankies (made with whole wheat flour), milk products such as curd and cottage cheese (paneer), tofu (made from milk) and roasted or steamed corn.

What are the healthy food items I should carry for my son while travelling?
Preferred foods to be carried while travelling would be wheat khakras, roasted chana, peanuts, whole wheat sandwiches, dry fruits such as walnuts, dates, raisins and almonds, and fresh fruits and fruit juices.

My three and a half year old child is allergic to milk. What foods can I give him as a substitute?
Include carrots in your kid’s diet in the form of a soup and juice. If he can have cheese and paneer, then that can be a good option. Calcium can be supplemented by adding dark leafy vegetables, legumes such as chickpeas, nut (almonds), soy bean, sesame seeds (til laddoos) and whole grain (nachni) in the diet.

I’ve been told that red vegetables and pumpkins are good for the eyes. Is this true? Which are the best vegetables to eat?
Brightly coloured, especially red and yellow fruits and vegetables, are rich in beta-carotenoids (vitamin A), antioxidants and vitamin C, which are essential for good eye health. It is recommended that people choose a variety of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet to take advantage of the different nutrients that each has to offer. The best vegetables for better eyesight are carrots, methi (fenugreek leaves), sweet potatoes and lettuce leaves, and fruits such as mango, papaya, cherry, peach and watermelon.

What nutrients do peanuts have? How are they helpful?
Peanuts are an excellent source of plant protein, fibre, folates, vitamin E and phytochemicals (resveratrol). They are also an important source of essential minerals such as magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. They also serve as excellent snacking options. However, one may not get enough nutrients or health benefits from peanuts if they’re covered with chocolate, sugar or salt.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.