Most kids already know that fruits and vegetables are healthy food choices. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories, so you get lots of nutrition without eating unhealthy fats. Fruits and vegetables add interest and texture to your meal, and can be found in every color of the rainbow. They are also versatile -- besides being a great addition to all sorts of recipes, most fruits and many vegetables are ready to eat just as they are, making them a perfect snack food.
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Kids' favorite fruits include apples, oranges and bananas. There are many more to choose from -- don’t forget about watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew; berries like raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries; and tree fruits such as apricot, cherries, peaches, plums and pears. The citrus family includes tangerines, grapefruit, lemons and limes. Give these more tropical fruits a try: kiwi, pineapple, papaya, coconut, mango, guava and pomegranate. Dried fruit makes a convenient snack, in the form of raisins; craisins, which are dried cranberries; and prunes, dried plums.
Corn, potatoes, carrots and green beans are some of the most familiar vegetables. You can expand your children's food horizons by having them try vegetables like squash, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, peas, yams, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, cabbage, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus and kale. Kids may not want to eat raw onions, but these vegetables add delicious flavor to other foods. Vegetables like tomatoes, celery, cucumber, bell peppers and lettuce can be combined to make a colorful salad.
The distinction between fruits and vegetables can be confusing. Technically, any food that develops from a flower and contains one or more seeds is a fruit, while a vegetable is the stem, root or leaf of a plant. Thus, green peppers, pumpkins and string beans are actually fruits, according to the website Delicious Living.
Fruits and vegetables are a storehouse of nutrients important to kids' development and general good health. Many are even considered “super foods” because they are so full of essential nutrients, according to the Dole.com website. Lots of fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, broccoli and strawberries, are high in vitamin C, which helps your body fight infection. Other fruits and vegetables, particularly orange ones such as pumpkin and nectarines, are high in vitamin A, which keeps your immune system healthy. Important nutrients found in fruits and vegetables also include the B vitamins; vitamins K and E; and important minerals and elements such as selenium, zinc, calcium, manganese, potassium, folate and magnesium. Not every fruit and vegetable contains every single nutrient, but by eating a wide variety along with other healthful foods, you are sure to take in all you need to grow and stay healthy.
Along with whole grains and legumes such as beans, fruits and vegetables are a significant source of dietary fiber, which is important for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Fiber also helps prevent problems with heart disease, diabetes and constipation, according to the KidsHealth.com website. Whenever possible, eat fruits and vegetables with the skins on, because when peeled they lose much of their fiber and nutrients. Always wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.