The smart way to ensure that your kids live a healthy life is by helping them obtain as much nutrition as possible from the foods they consume every day. These can be common foods that are local and seasonal in nature. So, you don’t always need to look for something exotic to make your child’s diet more wholesome. Different commonly available foods, when paired right, can maximize nutrient absorption. For example, the appropriate pairing of fresh, raw vegetables with other cooked foods can increase the nutrient absorption. Choosing foods from a wide variety, and ensuring a mix of different colours and textures, will give your kid better taste and nutrition.
Here are the things you should know about nutrients:
- Nutrients normally include calories (carbohydrates, protein, fats), vitamins (vitamin A, C, D, E, K, and B complex), minerals (calcium, zinc, niacin, sulphur, phosphorus etc.), antioxidants (anthocynanin, beta-carotene, catechins etc.) and photochemicals (flavonoids, flavonoles etc.).
- Bioavailability of each nutrient is also important, along with how readily it is absorbed by the body.
Best food pairings that maximise nutrient absorption
Some of the food combinations that can increase nutrient absorption are listed below:-
- Non-heme iron and vitamin C- Plant-based iron is not well-absorbed by your child’s body. So, absorption of non-heme iron can be boosted by pairing it with vitamin C, which helps break down the iron into a form that is easily absorbed. Add drops of lemon or orange juice to a green leafy vegetable or combined diced apple with lentils or a soy dish to boost iron absorption.
- Olive oil with tomatoes- Tomato contains lycopene, which is a disease-fighting antioxidant, believed to prevent prostate cancer. It works well if a bit of olive oil is sprinkled over raw tomatoes or cooked tomatoes, to enhance the body’s absorption of photochemical.
- Turmeric with black pepper- Turmeric contains powerful antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties which relieve symptoms of arthritis and benefit kidney health. And black pepper can enhance the beneficial compounds present in turmeric. So, if taken together, the bioavailability of the nutrients will increase. It will enhance the taste of a dish as well. You can for example prepare a green tea with turmeric and black pepper to boost your immunity, or prepare a fruit and vegetable salad and sprinkle turmeric and black pepper over it.
- Vitamin-mineral combo- Vitamin D and calcium if taken together can boost bone health. Vitamin D derives more calcium from the foods we eat. According to experts, vitamin D produces a cascade effect that boosts the absorption of dietary calcium in your child’s intestines. To get the best food pairing, combine vitamin D rich foods with egg yolks, milk, soymilk, or orange juice. Also, include different kinds of calcium-rich foods in your kid’s diet, like leafy greens, broccoli, oranges, dried figs, and dairy products. For example, you can serve tossed vegetables with scrambled eggs.
- Protein combo- It is crucial to consume a variety of proteins from different sources for better nutrient absorption or essential amino acids absorption. Good protein or complete protein is present in animal sources like meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and fish. These can also be combined with good vegetarian protein sources like soy and nuts. Remember that plant-based protein is incomplete and lacks essential amino acids. So, you can combine rice with black beans, hummus with whole-wheat bread, quinoa with corns, and peanut butter with bread.
- Fat and fat-soluble vitamins combination- Some vitamins are fat-soluble in nature, like A, D, E and K. They are readily absorbed if paired with good sources of fat. Remember that deficiencies of these vitamins can cause cancer and type 2 diabetes. So, offer your kids nuts, seeds, avocadoes or olives with other green leafy vegetables. Pair milk with a butter and jelly sandwich. Green leafy veggies that are rich in vitamins A and E can be had with nuts and seeds.
It is always recommended that you grow a small kitchen garden for fresh and organic fruits and vegetables that provide better nutrition than those that are genetically modified and affected by pesticides. This way, you can make your own selections and combinations for children, to boost their energy and immunity.
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