The 10 best Healthy Foods for Kids to Maintain a Healthy Weight

What are the 10 best healthy foods for kids you need to include in their meal plan, so they can maintain a healthy weight? As parents, one of our top priorities is to ensure that our children are healthy. It’s our responsibility to instill good eating habits in them from a young age and set them up for a lifetime of good health and well-being.

Eating a well-balanced diet is important for people of all ages, but it’s especially crucial for children. Proper nutrition is essential for children’s growth and development, both physically and mentally. Healthy food choices can help your kids maintain a healthy weight, develop strong bones and muscles, and boost their immune system. 

One of the Biggest Challenges of Parenthood

But as any parent can attest, getting kids to eat a healthy diet can be one of the biggest challenges of parenthood.

Raising kids in a world filled to the top with processed and sugary foods and trying to embrace healthy eating can be quite challenging. Especially, when even highly processed foods are labeled or advertised as healthy. Think vegan salami (ultra-processed plant-based foods). Therefore, it is paramount that we lead by example, emphasizing healthy eating as a consistent practice through our actions and choices.

If you have managed to successfully convince your five-year-old to choose consciously broccoli over fries or chocolate, this is an incredible feat deserving a gold medal. If your efforts haven’t worked so far, though, you are not alone.

The good news is that there are ways to achieve this. Just arm yourself with patience, persistence, and creativity! 

Find out here, what are the 10 best healthy foods for kids you need to include in their meal plan. Furthermore, we provide you with some valuable tips on how to get these 10 best healthy foods for kids into your child’s diet. So, they actually should eat them.

Top 10 Healthy Foods for Kids

Drumroll, please. Here is our list of the 10 best healthy foods that kids should eat every day to maintain a healthy weight.

10. Avocado 

Avocado is a nutrient-dense food that is rich in healthy fats, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. It is a versatile food that is used in both savory and sweet meals.

It is particularly abundant in vitamins such as vitamin K, which supports blood clotting and bone health, and vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system and aids in collagen formation. Avocado also provides vitamin E, known for its antioxidant properties, helping protect cells from oxidative damage. Additionally, it contains a variety of B vitamins, including B5 (pantothenic acid) and B6 (pyridoxine), which are crucial for metabolism and overall well-being. This combination of vitamins makes avocados a nutritious choice for promoting various aspects of health.

You can get your child to have more avocado by smashing and spreading it on toast and sandwiches, adding it to salads, or making guacamole as a topping for almost everything.

In sweet dishes, it is added to smoothies and puddings, and as a replacement for butter or oil in baking recipes. It is often used as the base ingredient in healthy chocolate spread recipes that your children are going to love. 

9. Oats

Oats are among the most healthy foods for kids. As nutritional powerhouses, they are rich in essential vitamins and minerals.

They are excellent sources of dietary fiber, providing both soluble and insoluble fiber that aids in digestion, supports heart health, and helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Oats and Whole Grains The 10 most healthy foods for kids

Oats are abundant in B vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B6 (pyridoxine). Those play crucial roles in energy production and metabolism. Oats also supply essential minerals such as magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc, important for bone health, red blood cell formation, and overall vitality. Consuming oats promotes a well-rounded and nutritious diet.

Beta-glucan

One of the key nutrients found in oats is beta-glucan. It’s a type of soluble fiber and has several health benefits. Beta-glucan has been linked to:

Heart Health

Beta-glucan has cholesterol-lowering properties. It can help reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood, which is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.

Healthy Foods for Kids help with the Blood Sugar Control

Beta-glucan may help stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. This can be particularly beneficial for kids with diabetes or those at risk of developing it.

Weight Management

The soluble fiber in beta-glucan can contribute to feelings of fullness and satiety, potentially aiding in weight management by reducing overall calorie intake.

Digestive Health

Beta-glucan acts as a prebiotic, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This can support digestive health and a strong immune system.

Immune Function

Some studies suggest that beta-glucan may enhance the body’s immune response, potentially improving resistance to infections and illnesses.

To enjoy the benefits of beta-glucan, incorporating oats into your child’s diet is a nutritious choice. Oats can be consumed as oatmeal, oat flour, or added to smoothies and baked goods, making it easy to incorporate this healthy nutrient into your daily meals.

You can start with breakfast, adding oats to your child’s breakfast routine. They wouldn’t say “no” to oatmeal with fruits, oatmeal pancakes, or oatmeal cake. Trust me. The trick is how to make them look and taste great.

What’s more, oats are great for making healthy snacks. Homemade oatmeal carrot cake is a very delicious snacking option, and so are oatmeal muffins.

8. Legumes 

Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas, are nutrient-dense foods, rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, they are among the top 10 best healthy foods for kids to maintain a healthy weight. They are excellent sources of plant-based protein, and dietary fiber, aiding in digestive health and maintaining steady blood sugar levels.

Legumes The 10 most healthy foods for kids

Legumes provide essential B vitamins like folate, thiamine (B1), and pyridoxine (B6), crucial for energy metabolism and brain function. They are also abundant in minerals such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, supporting overall vitality, bone health, and oxygen transport in the body. Additionally, legumes offer potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure, and zinc, necessary for immune function and wound healing. Incorporating legumes into your child’s diet promotes a well-balanced intake of essential nutrients.

To make your kid have more legumes, you can use them in familiar dishes like soups, stews, or chili. Try to also serve them as a dip with veggies or incorporate them into meatballs or burgers. Another fun way to introduce legumes is by making homemade hummus with chickpeas and serving it with pita bread or veggie sticks for dipping. 

7. Oily Fish 

Oily fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, and herring) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which play a crucial role in children’s brain and eye development. There is also scientific evidence that omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease later in life. 

As one of the 10 best healthy foods for kids to maintain a healthy weight, oily fish should be on your child’s meal plan twice a week. This is an excellent routine to follow.

To make fish more appealing to kids, it’s important to start early in life. I’ve been serving my little one a creamy salmon-potato-carrot-butter soup since he was 4 months old. And now he simply loves salmon and mackerel, which is amazing, since his dad cannot even stand the smell of fish.

For those who don’t like oily fish, start with something less “smelly” like cod. Try baking or grilling it with a simple marinade of lemon and herbs.

Once you can get to salmon, you can also cook tasty meals like salmon with rice or salmon bowl with chickpeas.

If your child is not used to eating fish, you can start by serving small portions of fish and gradually increase the amount over time. You should experiment with different kinds of fish to find the ones your child enjoys. Some kids may like milder-tasting fish like cod, while others might prefer stronger-flavored fish like salmon or mackerel.

Finally, if your child is not getting enough omega-3s from their diet, you can talk to their pediatrician about adding a fish oil supplement to their daily routine. 

6. Eggs are Among The 10 Best Healthy Foods for Kids to Maintain a Healthy Weight

Among the 10 best healthy foods for kids to maintain a healthy weight, eggs are extreemly beneficial for children’s growth, development, and overall health, the good science has proven it many times. Make sure that eggs are cooked thoroughly to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses, particularly for young children.

The Best Healthy Foods for Kids3

Protein

Eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein, which is essential for children’s growth and development. Protein supports the formation of tissues, muscles, and enzymes in the body.

Vitamins

Eggs contain several essential vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and choline. Vitamin A is important for vision, while vitamin D is essential for bone health and calcium absorption. Vitamin B12 is necessary for neurological function, and choline plays a role in brain development and memory.

Minerals

Eggs provide minerals like iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Iron is vital for preventing anemia and maintaining proper oxygen transport in the blood. Phosphorus is crucial for strong bones and teeth, and zinc supports immune function.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eggs, especially those from hens fed a diet rich in omega-3s, can be a source of these beneficial fatty acids. Omega-3s support brain development and cardiovascular health.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

These antioxidants found in eggs can promote eye health and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Choline

Choline is critical for brain development, memory, and cognitive function. Eggs are one of the best dietary sources of this nutrient.

Low in Saturated Fat

Eggs are relatively low in saturated fat, which is important for heart health. They can be a healthy protein option, especially when compared to some meats high in saturated fat.

Eggs are Easy to Prepare

You can prepare eggs in various ways, making them a versatile ingredient in your child’s diet. Scrambled, boiled, poached, or added to dishes like omelets, eggs can be included in a variety of kid-friendly recipes like egg bake. Add them to healthy oatmeal cakes and savory snacks.

To create a more balanced and satisfying meal, you might mix eggs with other healthy ingredients like vegetables, cheese, or whole-grain bread.

5. Fruits

We all know it, but let’s state the obvious – fruits are an essential part of a balanced and nutritious diet and among the 10 best healthy foods for kids to maintain a healthy weight. Including a variety of fruits in your child’s diet ensures they receive a wide range of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for overall health and growth. Encourage your kids to enjoy these fruits as snacks or in smoothies and substitute completely sugary foods and drinks.

The Best Healthy Foods for Kids3

As a rule of thumb, go for organic options or self-grown fruits, whenever you can. If you can’t, peel the fruits when you can (apples, pears and similar). Try to choose locally grown fruits as well.

Here are some of the healthiest fruits for kids, along with their key nutrients:

Berries (Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries)

Berries are rich in antioxidants, particularly vitamin C and various phytochemicals. They support the immune system and overall health. Try to buy them when they are in season, otherwise choose the frozen ones.

Apples

Apples provide dietary fiber and vitamin C. The fiber supports digestive health and helps keep kids feeling full.

Pears

Pears provide dietary fiber and vitamin K. The fiber aids in digestion, and vitamin K supports bone health.

Oranges, Tangerines

Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, which boosts immunity and aids in collagen production for healthy skin and tissues.

Bananas

Bananas are high in potassium, which is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure and muscle function. They also provide vitamin B6 for energy metabolism.

Grapes

Grapes contain antioxidants and vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting and bone health.

Figs

Figs contain antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which help protect cells from oxidative damage. Also, they are rich in vitamins such as vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting, and vitamin B6, which is essential for brain development and function. Figs are a good source of minerals like potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure, and calcium, important for bone health.

Watermelon

Watermelon is a hydrating fruit with vitamins A and C. It’s a refreshing choice on hot days.

Kiwi

Kiwi is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber. It supports strong bones and a healthy immune system.

Peaches and Apricots

These fruits are rich in vitamins, particularly vitamin A, which supports eye health and immune function, and vitamin C, an antioxidant that boosts immunity and promotes skin health.

Plums

are a nutrient-packed fruit, offering a variety of essential nutrients. They are a rich source of vitamin C, which supports the immune system and skin health, as well as vitamin K, important for blood clotting and bone health. Plums are also abundant in dietary fiber, aiding digestion and helping regulate blood sugar levels. They contain minerals like potassium, which contributes to maintaining healthy blood pressure. Additionally, plums are packed with antioxidants, including phenolic compounds and anthocyanins, which protect cells from oxidative damage. Their low-calorie content and natural sweetness make plums a delicious and healthful addition to your child’s diet.

Kids love fruits, so try to have always seasonal fruits available for them. Fruits serve as excellent alternatives to sugary foods that can negatively impact health.

4. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are a fantastic source of vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which have numerous health benefits for the body. Therefore, they are among the 10 best healthy foods for kids to maintain a healthy weight. They are also high in protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues and helps lower cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of heart diseases.

Nuts and seeds are really versatile and you can come up with hundreds of ideas on how to incorporate them into your child’s diet. For example, consider offering them as a snack, adding them to soups or sprinkling them on top of salads. You can also make a trail mix with different kinds of seeds like chia and flaxseeds and incorporate them into smoothies or yogurt. However, be mindful of any allergies your child may have and avoid nuts and seeds if that’s the case.  

3. Beta-Carotene-Rich Vegetables such as Tomatoes and Carrots

Beta-carotene is a pigment found in various vegetables, particularly those with vibrant orange, yellow, or red hues. Some examples of beta-carotene-rich vegetables include carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, butternut squash, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, an essential nutrient for eye health, immune function, and skin health. Including these vegetables in your child’s diet can provide a range of health benefits, thanks to their beta-carotene content. These vegetables are also high in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion, and contain vitamin C. 

Encourage your child to eat more tomatoes or carrots. You can also make a simple fresh tomato sauce to serve with pizza, sandwich, or whole grain pasta.

2. Greek/ Bulgarian Yogurt is Among The 10 Best Healthy Foods for Kids to Maintain a Healthy Weight

Greek yogurt is often considered one of the healthiest options available due to its higher protein content and lower sugar content compared to regular yogurt. It also contains beneficial probiotics that support gut health and digestion. Additionally, opting for plain Greek yogurt without added sugars or artificial flavors ensures a cleaner ingredient list.

Bulgarian yogurt is similar to Greek yogurt but typically has a thinner consistency (lower fat content). Here are some key nutrients found in Bulgarian yogurt:

Protein

Greek/ Bulgarian yogurt is a rich source of protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair, as well as overall health and vitality.

Calcium

Like other dairy products, Greek/ Bulgarian yogurt is high in calcium, which is important for strong bones and teeth, as well as nerve function and muscle contraction.

Probiotics

Greek/ Bulgarian yogurt contains beneficial probiotic bacteria, such as Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus, which support gut health and digestion.

Vitamins

Greek/ Bulgarian yogurt provides various vitamins, including B vitamins like riboflavin (B2) and vitamin B12, which are important for energy metabolism and nervous system function.

Minerals

In addition to calcium, Greek/ Bulgarian yogurt contains other minerals like phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium, which play roles in bone health, electrolyte balance, and overall bodily functions.

Healthy Fats

Depending on the type of milk used to make it, Greek/ Bulgarian yogurt may contain healthy fats, particularly if made from whole milk or added sources like cream. These fats provide energy and support various bodily functions.

You can serve yogurts to kids adding some fresh fruit or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup for natural sweetness. It tastes great as a dip for fruits or veggies or blended into a smoothie. A good approach to make children look forward to having yogurt would be to let them add their own toppings, such as granola, nuts, or chocolate chips. 

1. Green vegetables – The Winner of The 10 Best Healthy Foods for Kids to Maintain a Healthy Weight

The number one healthy food for kids are no surprise – green vegetables! Broccoli, kale, spinach, salad, herbs, and cabbage, are an essential part of any healthy diet.

The Best Healthy Foods for Kids3

Green vegetables are highly nutritious and beneficial for kids due to their rich array of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Here are some reasons why green vegetables are healthy for kids and the nutrients they provide:

Vitamins

Green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, and K. Vitamin A supports eye health, vitamin C boosts the immune system, and vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone health.

Fiber

Green vegetables are high in dietary fiber. Therefore, their consumption aids in digestion, prevents constipation, and promotes a feeling of fullness, helping to maintain a healthy weight.

Minerals

These vegetables are rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron. Calcium is crucial for bone development, magnesium supports muscle and nerve function. Iron is essential for oxygen transport in the blood.

Antioxidants

Green vegetables contain various antioxidants. These include flavonoids and carotenoids. They help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Phytonutrients

These vegetables are also packed with phytonutrients, such as chlorophyll and sulforaphane, which have anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. They support overall health and well-being.

Incorporating a variety of green vegetables into your child’s diet provides them with a wide range of essential nutrients. Those are crucial for growth, development, and overall health. Encourage kids to eat a rainbow of colorful vegetables to ensure they receive a diverse array of nutrients.

Unfortunately, many children turn their noses up at greens, as they have a natural aversion to their taste and texture. That’s why is mostly challenging to get them to eat enough of them. Fortunately, there are ways to make greens more appealing to kids. 

You can, for example, sneak greens into their meals. It’ll take you a few more minutes to finely chop broccoli or spinach and add it to the pasta sauce, meatballs or soup you are making for dinner. Another idea is to blend greens into a smoothie with fruit and yogurt for a delicious and nutritious drink. 

Lastly, you can make greens fun by giving them a silly name. Kids are more likely to try foods that are represented creatively. Therefore if you refer to broccoli as “little trees” or to spinach as “superhero leaves”, it’s likely to get their attention and curiosity. 

To Sum Up

Start using at least some of these strategies. Try to consistently offer the above-mentioned foods to your children as part of a healthy diet. This will teach them to make the right food choices. Don’t forget, though, that children follow in their parents’ footsteps and it’s of great significance to set a good example yourself. You should model healthy eating habits by having healthy meals and snacks yourself. 

So, start by cooking healthy meals and gradually change your family’s diet over time. 

Happy healthy cooking and eating!

And of course don’t forget that children need not only healthy food, but also a great amount of outdoor physical activities every day!

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