Feeding Your Child’s Brain
The beginning of another school year is just around the corner. Now is the time to start planning how to prepare nutritious meals and snacks for your kids. The brain requires a tremendous amount of energy to function. Children learn best when their brains and bodies are in a nourished state.
Read on to find tasty “brain foods” for children and the nutrients they contain.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Food ideas: Walnuts, flax seed, fish & seafood
Snack Idea: Home-made granola with walnuts and flax
Meal Idea: Fish Tacos
Nutrients: These foods are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. This long chain fatty acid provides the “good-fats” that become incorporated into the membrane of cells in the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are also good for overall reduction of inflammation in the body (Gomez-Pinilla, 2008).
Folate and Vitamin B6
Food ideas: Spinach, broccoli, edamame, romaine lettuce, beans, peas, lentils, beets and avocados
Snack Idea: Edamame beans (soy beans and wic approved) warmed in the microwave with a little salt
Meal Idea: Black Bean Quesadillas with Avocados
Nutrients: High in folate and vitamin B6, these foods have been shown in to support brain development, especially memory (Bryan, 2004).
Food ideas: Nuts, spinach, broccoli, kale, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries
Snack Idea: Berry Smoothie
Dessert Idea: Mixed berries with vanilla ice cream
Nutrients: High in vitamin C and vitamin E, these antioxidant containing foods help preserve memory and protect against oxidation damage, also known as brain fog, at any age (Gomez-Pinilla, 2008).
Vitamin B12, Iron & Zinc
Food Ideas: Reduced-fat milk, low-fat cheese, beef, organ meats, seafood, eggs
Meal Idea: Ground Beef Tacos (made with lean ground beef and low-fat cheese)
Nutrients: Low or reduced-fat dairy products and lean cuts of meat are great sources of vitamin B12, iron and zinc. Vitamin B12 has been shown to support normal brain development and memory. Iron and zinc are important minerals that play key roles in several brain functions including emotional development (Bryan, 2004).
Other ideas for health
Numerous studies have shown that kids who are physically active and engage in challenging physical activities have better classroom behavior, greater academic achievements and enhanced cognitive performance (Tandon, 2016).
Eat less junk food, fast food, fried foods, potato chips, donuts and pastries, whole-fat dairy foods, fatty cuts of meat
Nutrients: Foods high in saturated fat and added sugar are not only bad for over-all health, but they are have been shown to cause damage to the brain (Tandon, 2016).
Bryan, J. (2004). Nutrient for cognitive development in school-aged children. Nutrition Reviews, 295-306.
Gomez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Science and Society, 568-578.
Tandon, P. (2016). The relationship between physical activity and diet and young children’s cognitive development: A systematic review. Preventive Medicine Reports, 379-390.