By now, hopefully all of us have heard about super foods. For those who haven’t, they’re everyday natural foods, which are high in nutrients and antioxidants to help keep the body healthy.
There are many super foods. The following suggested, are some that are suitable in a baby’s diet from an early age, once solids are started, and are in no particular order of importance.
Full fat natural yoghurt is the best yoghurt for babies. High in calcium which is good for healthy teeth and strong bones, a good source of fat which babies need, high in fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K, and packed with beneficial bacteria which is good for a babies digestive and immune system, it has no added sugar which babies don’t need.
Whole grain oats are nutritious and satisfying for a baby. They’re high in fibre, low in sodium and GI, as well as packed with B vitamins, which are essential for the nervous system. Unflavoured whole grain oats are more likely to have less sodium and sugar than flavoured oats. Just add your own fresh or stewed fruit for a healthier option.
Fruit is an essential part of a baby’s diet. Fresh or frozen, berries are very high in antioxidants compared to other fruits, with blueberries being the highest. Antioxidants help fight free radicals in the body, therefore helping to build the immune system, which is important for a baby. Some of the other benefits of blueberries include anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties, and properties which are good for brain and digestive health. Just puree berries and mix with a little mashed ripe banana or yoghurt as an idea, to serve.
Ripe avocados are suitable for babies of all ages. With their creamy texture and delicate taste, most babies seem to love them as a first food. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it’s one of the only fruits to contain a monounsaturated fat, which is essential for baby development. Avocados have a similar fat composition to breast milk.
A versatile and powerhouse of a vegetable. Packed with essential vitamins, especially vitamin C and folate. It’s anti cancer, as well as high in fibre, which can make them a little windy like other cruciferous vegetables. It can also taste a little strong on the palate, so best to mix it with a sweet or starchy vegetable like carrot, sweet potato or potato, for your baby to enjoy.
Cinnamon is a flavoursome and naturally sweet spice, which many babies love. It’s a great way to spice up stewed fruits, pumpkin, sweet potato, porridge, puddings and custard. Its health benefits including lowering blood sugars in diabetics, as well as lowering cholesterol. The tiny amounts you would use for your baby though, the health benefits would probably be hardly noticeable. Cinnamon makes a great alternative to sugar, which babies don’t need.
Salmon for babies is brain and eye food. Like other oily fish, it’s high in omega 3’s and contains EPA and DHA, which is essential for brain and nervous system development, as well as eyesight. Even more reason for your baby to eat it! It’s also high in protein and minerals, low in saturated fat and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Salmon poached in a little milk and mixed with vegetables, cream cheese and even a little pasta, is definitely worth a try.
- RED MEAT
Lean red meat is packed with essential nutrients like iron, zinc, B vitamins and protein, which are all important for growth and development. Lean red meat pureed to a silky smooth texture, can be introduced at 6 months after first tastes are established. It contains more absorbable iron than any other foods, and is required for healthy blood, as well as prevention of irritability and tiredness. Iron also helps us to concentrate, remember and learn.
Don’t become too fixated on one nutrient for your baby. Your baby needs a varied diet of wholesome healthy food like dairy, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.
By Cherie Lyden – nutritionist and mother – www.lydenvitality.com