Aug 4, 2010 3:15 PM
Certain essential nutrients have gone missing from our kids' diets. The "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" from the U.S. government encourages children to eat more foods with these five nutrients -- calcium, fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium -- as part of a balanced diet.
Your child may resist your efforts to help him eat better, so use the stealth health tip in each section to covertly include what he needs to develop a strong, healthy body and ward off common illnesses.
Dairy foods are the best sources of calcium, a mineral that's vital for bolstering bone strength and development in growing children, and promoting normal heart and muscle function and blood clotting. Dairy foods are the best calcium sources; most kids need three servings a day.
Stealth Health Tip: Microwave oatmeal with 8 ounces of milk instead of water.
Fiber does more than keep a kid's digestive system in working order. Getting into the habit of including fiber-rich foods may curb your child's chances of developing heart diseaseheart disease and type 2 diabetesdiabetes down the road, too. Whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables are generally fiber-rich.
Stealth Health Tip: Prepare your favorite chili recipe with twice the beans and half the meat.
You probably know little about magnesium, even though it's a mineral that gets around. Magnesium participates in hundreds of bodily functions that keep a child's body running smoothly. Plus, magnesium contributes to a fracture-free skeleton by bolstering bone densitybone density. Nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains are packed with magnesium. So are certain fish.
Stealth Health Tip: Puree cooked white, black, or navy beans and add to soups and stews to boost magnesium and fiber.
Vitamin E protects against cell damage and bolsters a healthy immune system. Oils and nut and seed products are rich in vitamin E and fat; green vegetables have vitamin E, but less.
Stealth Health Tip: Add ground almonds or wheat germ to smoothies and quick breads.
Potassium means more than orange juice and bananas. Every food has potassium. In fact, meat, dairy, and seafood are packed with the potassium your child's body needs for normal heart rhythm, muscle function, and blood pressure. When it comes to kids getting enough potassium, the fresher the food, the better.
Stealth Health Tip: Make your own high-potassium trail mix with chopped dried apricots or peaches, whole-grain cereal, roasted soy nuts and a few mini chocolate chips.
Make use of these easy hints and stealthy tips -- or come up with your own -- and your kids can easily get more of these five essential nutrients their growing bodies need.