How to raise a healthy eater: Part 7

So this is going to be a super short post on the importance of getting calcium into your children’s diets. This post is meant to emphasis calcium, not necessarily milk.

Calcium is a very important mineral that the body needs in order to build and maintain bone mass. This is especially important for growing children so that they grow up with healthy, strong bones.

Dairy rich foods are an integral part of a healthy diet. As a whole, these types of foods off er a lot of nutritional benefits for the body:

– build and repair skin, muscle, and nerve tissue

– build and maintain bone strength

– help maintain a healthy blood pressure

– help fight infection

In order to get these benefits, you should be consuming 3 cups of dairy rich foods on a daily basis. This does not mean you have to drink milk to get your calcium, though. These foods also count as calcium rich foods (the foods below count as 1 cup)

– 1 cup milk or yogurt

– 1 cup calcium-fortified soymilk (make sure it is fortified as regular soymilk contains little calcium and the little calcium it contains is hard to digest)

– 1 1/2 ounces natural or hard cheese

– 2 ounces processed cheese

– 2 cups cottage cheese

However, you should not necessarily be feeding your child all of these foods right away. You need to take into consideration your child’s age:

– through the first year, serve either breast milk or formula. Cow’s milk is hard for infants to digest, and some infants are allergic to it. In fact, I just read a research article this morning that discussed the detrimental effects on infants when given whole cows milk.

– kids 1-2 years old need whole milk for growth and brain development

– kids 2 years and older should get low fat or nonfat milk. It has the same amount of calcium per serving as whole milk.

How much calcium does my child mean?

– kids between the ages of 1 and 3 need 500 mg of calcium each day

– kids between the ages of 4 and 8 need 800 mg of calcium each day

What other foods contain calcium?

– Green vegetables, particularly curly kale, are good sources of calcium, as well as boiled broccoli and watercress. For children who don’t like vegetables, disguise them by sprinkling cheese over the top or mashing them into a potato.

– canned fish with bones are a good source of caclium. The bones are what contain the calcium and the canning process helps soften the bones so they are easier to consume. In order to make them more appealing to your kids, mash the salmon so the bones are less noticeable. Then, use canned salmon in fish cakes instead of crab, or add it to casseroles in place of tuna.
– Many foods are now fortified with calcium and other nutrients. Many breakfast cereals are fortified with calcium, with 100mg in a 30g portion, an average serving size. A 240ml cup of fortified orange juice contains 300mg of calcium.
– Tofu is an excellent source of calcium. However, be careful with the type you pick out. Tofu made with calcium sulfate contains more calcium than tofu made with magnesium chloride, or nigari. Since most kids (and even adults) may be uneasy about consuming tofu, disguise it! the great thing about tofu is that it can easily be disguised in a lot of dishes. It will take on the flavors of whatever you mix it with. I have seen a lot of fun recipes incorporating tofu lately such as cutting tofu into strips and making them into a fun finger food for your child.
– almonds pack a quite a punch in the calcium department. They are so easy to just throw into just about anything or even just snack on raw.
– A sweet potato provides about 55 mg of calcium, and a cup of cooked sweet potatoes about 76 mg. Bake a sweet potato (skin on) and top it with low-fat yogurt or grated cheddar; cut potatoes into sticks, toss in olive oil roast in the oven, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; or boil and mash potatoes and toss with butter and cheese. (A note on yams: They are not as rich in calcium as sweet potatoes, containing only 19 mg per cup, so make sure you’re serving the kids sweet potatoes, not yams, if you’re trying to up their calcium intake.)
– A cup of boiled small white beans, dried, provides about 130 mg of calcium, nearly as much as half a cup of milk. A cup of canned white beans has about 190 mg. A cup of canned chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, contains about 80 mg. Mash, or use your food processor to blend, both types of beans into dips and spreads kids will love.

* Be sure to check out the other posts in my healthy eater series. They are posted under the ‘tips for raising healthy kids’ tab.


5 thoughts on “How to raise a healthy eater: Part 7

  1. Pingback: Your Questions About Best Muscle Gaining Foods | eConsumer Product Reviews

  2. Pingback: How to raise a healthy eater: Part 9 « f00dventures

  3. Pingback: How to raise a healthy eater: Part 11 « f00dventures

  4. Pingback: How to raise a healthy eater: Part 12 « f00dventures

  5. Pingback: Your Questions About [get Your Dog To Eat]

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