Fruits and veggies are key to helping kids develop and grow. But how many do they need? We all know they aren’t getting enough, but what’s a good amount?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommendations range from 1–2 cups for fruit and 1–3 cups of vegetable per day. Obviously, it depends on the age and size of the child. A good rule of thumb, though, is that half the food on a child’s plate should consist of vegetables.
Why is it so important to up our kids’ intake of fruits and veggies—and our own, too? There are four key reasons.
Fruits and Veggies Are Key for Immune Health and Disease Prevention
Because of all of the vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory properties of fruits and veggies, they provide amazing nutrition to all the cells of the body, so you’ll be less likely to catch all the bugs going around. There’s also significant evidence that the increase in flavonoids and antioxidants in fruits and veggies will keep the surface of the body’s cells stronger and more resistant to disease, including cancer.
Eating More Fruits and Veggies Makes Obesity Less Likely
The number of kids who are obese has steadily increased over the past few decades. The CDC reports that one in five kids between ages 6 and 19 are now obese—that’s one in five kids.
There are several reasons for the increase, but two main ones. Kids today don’t get nearly as much physical activity as they did in the past, and they eat fat-laden, calorie-filled foods at meals and for snacks.
Fruits and veggies are high in filling fiber, but low in fat and calories. Having kids fill up on these foods instead of prepared snack foods or fast food will help lower their risk of obesity.
Fruits and Veggies Help Promote a Healthier Tummy
Tummy troubles, including constipation, are common among kids. To help the digestive system work properly, you want your kids to get an adequate amount of fiber each day.
How much fiber is needed each day varies depending on your child’s age. Little ones need around 19 grams per day, while teen girls need at least 26 grams and teen boys need 38 grams.
Apples, blackberries, lentils, beans, and spinach all contain 5 grams or more of fiber per serving. Other fruits and veggies have less fiber, but can still provide some fiber toward the daily requirement.
Kids Who Eat More Fruits and Veggies Perform Better in School
Research has found that nutrition has a directly correlation with school performance—affecting thinking skills, behavior, memory, and cognitive development. So eating a healthy diet helps promote a better education. And the opposite is also true.
I recently ran across an article from Time magazine, about a study from The Ohio State University of Texas that found that the more often fifth graders ate fast food, the less they improved in reading, math, and science between fifth and eighth grade.
Wow, that is very scary!
How to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits and Veggies
So what are some simple things we can do, especially for picky eaters? eaters
One suggestion is to shop with your kids so they can pick out colorful foods and learn how to be healthy shoppers. Let them help you cook and prepare veggies for meals, school lunches and snacks. Have cut veggies and fruit in containers at their eye level, so they can easily pick healthier snacks.
In my experience as a mom and grandma, it takes many exposures for picky eaters and patience on mom and dad’s part. Don’t give up. It’s an investment in their health that will pay off over their entire lives.
We have another great solution for you. Our Dynamic Kids Drink is an easy-to-mix, great-tasting, superfood formula that provides the equivalent of 20 fruits and vegetables with 100 percent natural fruit and vegetable extracts, vitamins, enzymes, and symbiotic intestinal flora—high in antioxidants, lignans, and plant nutrients. This delicious juice alternative makes fruits and vegetables easy and enjoyable. Your children will love the fruit punch flavor and naturally vibrant color.