Nutrition for Kids: 5 Foods To Keep in Their Diet

Nutrition is a critical part of a child’s healthy growth and development. A balanced, healthy diet has numerous benefits for kids, including: 

  • Stabilizing energy 
  • Strengthening bones
  • Promoting muscle growth
  • Maintaining a healthy weight 
  • Supporting brain development

However, knowing what constitutes healthy foods for kids can be tricky. Understanding a child’s growing needs and the various vitamins, nutrients, and minerals their bodies require will be vital when creating nutritious meals for kids.  

Here, we’ve compiled a list of five of the most nutritious foods you can give your kids to keep them healthy and support their growth.

5 Nutritious Foods To Keep Your Child Healthy and Growing

Nutritious food for kids comes in different forms. Remember, a healthy diet is balanced, so optimizing kids’ nutrition means incorporating various foods and food groups. 

Let’s look at five of the most nutritious meals you can give your kids

1. High-Protein Whole Grains

Nothing packs a punch like high-protein whole grains. Diets rich in whole grains provide numerous benefits for kids, including reducing the risk of heart disease or type 2 diabetes in the future. Whole grains also help kids maintain a healthy weight by aiding in digestion and keeping kids full, which helps prevent obesity.

Whole grains are particularly vital for growing children, as they provide the energy necessary for muscle growth and development, making high-protein whole grains one of the most crucial parts of kids’ healthy diets. Some examples include:

  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain bread 
  • Whole grain pasta 
  • Whole grain cereal 

For the perfect kids’ meal that’s both nutritious and delicious, try Muscle Mac’s Macaroni and Cheese Cups, each packed with 20 grams of high-quality, vegetable-based protein to support a child’s healthy physical development. 

2. Beans and Other Legumes

Another excellent source of protein, fiber, and other nutrients includes various beans and legumes. Beans are a staple in diets worldwide and, for kids, are a powerhouse of nutrition, especially for families who prefer plant-based diets.  

While protein promotes muscle growth and development, fiber helps with digestion and boosting metabolism. Here are some examples of beans and legumes that you can incorporate into your child’s diet:

  • Lentils 
  • Soybeans
  • Chickpeas 
  • Green peas
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans

3. Greek Yogurt and Calcium-Rich Dairy Products

Greek yogurt is rich in probiotics, which are bacteria that promote gut health. Since kids need lots of food—and they eat a lot!—a healthy gut is essential to growth. Also, calcium-rich dairy products help with skeletal development and contribute to kids’ healthy teeth and bones. 

Some examples of calcium-rich dairy foods include:  

  • Milk 
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Buttermilk

Specially designed Mac and Cheese meals, made with real cheese and milk, are another excellent choice for kids, providing these critical dairy-based nutrients. 

4. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are good for everyone but are especially important for growing children. Besides boosting the immune system with vitamin C or promoting better digestion with natural fibers, fruits and veggies have also been linked to brain development and improving cognitive functions such as memory. They are even a great source of natural sugar and an excellent alternative to foods high in calories or sodium. 

Of course, when figuring out what to put in kids’ meals, remember to include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as no one thing contains everything kids need. Here’s a list to get started:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet potatoes

5. Healthy Fats From Avocados, Nut Butters, and Olive Oil

Healthy fats are another key nutritional component for children’s growth and development. Foods high in healthy fats are an excellent source of key nutrients such as potassium and omega-3 fatty acids that promote brain development. Healthy fats also provide energy, support cell growth, protect kids’ organs, and help maintain their body temperature.

Here are some examples of foods rich in healthy fats:

  • Eggs 
  • Walnuts 
  • Olive oil 
  • Avocados 
  • Flaxseeds 
  • Peanut butter 
  • Almond butter
  • Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel

Key Nutrients That Kids Need in Their Daily Diet

All children need to eat a variety of nutrients to promote their overall growth and development. For parents, it’s important to be aware of this, so make a point to read the food label at the supermarket, and ensure your kids receive plenty of these nutrients:

  • Protein: Essential for growth and repair of body tissues
  • Carbohydrates: The body’s main source of energy
  • Fats: Necessary for brain development and maintaining healthy skin and hair
  • Calcium: Crucial for building strong bones and teeth
  • Iron: Important for creating red blood cells
  • Fiber: Promote healthy digestive functions
  • Vitamin A: Essential for normal growth and development, tissue and bone repair, and vision
  • Vitamins B: Necessary for energy production, immune function, and iron absorption
  • Vitamin C: Important for promoting healthy muscles, connective tissue, and skin
  • Vitamin D: Good for bone and tooth formation

Other key nutrients for a healthy and balanced diet include antioxidants, zinc, copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.  

Try the Healthiest Mac and Cheese on the Market

A nutritious diet is vital for children’s healthy growth. The food choices you make for your kids play a significant role in how they develop, and ensuring they get the full range of essential vitamins and minerals is one of the most critical components of preparing their meals.

Of course, just because food is healthy doesn’t mean it can’t also be delicious. At Muscle Mac, we strive to do precisely that. Using only the best ingredients, including GMO-free pasta, real cheese, and plant-based proteins, we’ve created the perfect meals to balance nutrition with delicious taste, providing kids with a meal they’ll need and love.

Browse our online store to find nutritious Mac and Cheese meals, including single-serving cups and variety/family-pack options, and give your kids the best of both worlds.