Eating Fruits and Vegetables Linked to Increased Well-Being in Children
With many kids back in school and many others only weeks away, the importance of a healthy diet for children's well-being is at the forefront of many parents minds. This study, although a few years old, shows that not only are fruits and vegetables good for your body, but they also benefit mental health, especially in children. Although other studies have shown how a good diet can affect test scores, this is the first study that looked at the diet of school-age children to see if the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables were being consumed and how it affected their mental well-being. They found that the types of breakfast and lunch eaten by both primary and secondary school pupils were significantly associated with children's mental health.
This study shows how eating more fruits and vegetables is linked with better well-being among secondary school students, in particular. And children who consumed five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day had the highest scores for mental well-being. Unfortunately, only around a quarter of the secondary-school children and 28% of primary-school children reported eating the recommended five-a-day fruits and vegetables. And just under one in ten children were not eating any fruits or vegetables. More than one in five secondary school children and one in ten primary children didn't eat breakfast. And more than one in ten secondary school children didn't eat lunch.
The researchers’ hope is that public health strategies and school policies will be developed to ensure that good quality nutrition is available to all children before and during school to optimize mental well-being and empower children to fulfill their full potential.
If your child has a hard time getting in fruits and vegetables, whether it is because of time, or dislike of vegetables, these recipes may help. Smoothies are also a great way to sneak in a lot of vegetables, and many can be made quickly and eaten on-the-go for those teenagers who are always in a rush.
The following smoothie offers 3 servings in just one meal. If you don’t have a pear, use a banana.
- 1 cup fresh spinach, lightly packed
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 1 ripe pear, peeled and cored
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
Place ingredients in a blender. Start off at a lower speed and then increase until you have desired consistency. Pour in a cup and enjoy!
And for dinner or lunch, a soup is a wonderful way to use up vegetables that aren’t ideal for eating raw, but can still provide nutrition to your diet. Pureeing the soup before you add noodles is a trick I use to make the soup more appetizing for picky eaters.
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Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
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