Your preschool-age child works hard! Preschoolers are constantly learning about the world around them, taking everything in with a sense of wonder and a deep curiosity. You may not realize it, but it’s a lot of work to process all that new information that kids absorb on a daily basis.
To help your preschooler, choose foods that fuel the brain. The following is a short list of meal items that can boost brain power. Get creative with these foods, serving them for lunch or other meals in fun and tasty ways. They make great snacks, too!
Many children already love peanut butter. You can make a traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or you can try many other alternatives. Instead of jelly, use fruit slices, such as bananas or strawberries. Or opt for whole-fruit preserves. Select a hearty, nutritious bread, such as whole wheat or multigrain, then make a creative, delicious, and nutritious peanut butter sandwich for anytime of day.
Another great way to eat peanut butter is with slices of fresh fruits and vegetables. Apple slices, carrot sticks, and celery sticks are fun to dunk into peanut butter!
The great thing about peanut butter is that it has vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects nerves, and thiamin, a vitamin that boosts brain power.
Of course, the caveat here is that some kids (and adults) are dangerously allergic to peanuts. It goes without saying that you’ll need to keep peanut butter out of the house if anyone in your family is allergic to peanuts.
If everyone in your family does fine with peanuts, then make those PB&J sandwiches for your preschooler! But before you pack anything with peanuts into your child’s lunch box, find out if anyone in the classroom has peanut allergies. If they do, you’ll want to keep the peanut butter snacks and meals at home.
Oatmeal And Other Grain Products
Grains offer a number of trace minerals that are key to good cognitive function. Oats and oatmeal provide important B complex vitamins, as well as zinc, which are important brain nutrients. The B vitamins help with the production of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit important signals between neurons throughout the brain and body. Zinc is crucial for the proper development of the brain, as well as for the overall ability to learn new concepts.
Oatmeal is a great meal any time of day! What’s more, you can add delicious mix-ins, including fresh or dried fruits, seeds, nuts (as with peanuts, make sure nobody who may be allergic to nuts will come in contact with them), cinnamon, coconut milk, and so much more! You can also add oats to cookies, muffins, and other baked goods.
Other grains are also healthy for your preschooler’s brain. Here’s a partial list of the benefits whole grains like rice, rye, barley, and buckwheat can provide to your child:
- Reduced cell inflammation for healthier brain cells and better brain function
- Shielding the brain from harmful sugar spikes
- Better blood flow to the brain
- Improvements in mood
- Nourishment for the overall nervous system
Berries: Many To Choose From
What’s your child’s favorite berry? There are so many to choose from! Whether your preschooler likes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwis, bananas (believe it or not, they’re considered berries!), or any other type of berry, you’ll be happy to know that these fruits are bursting with nutrition as well as flavor.
These are some of the brain-healthy nutrients found in berries, along with the benefits offered:
- The flavonoids (like anthocyanins) boost memory function
- Antioxidants in blueberries can protect the brain from stress
- Nutrients in berries can increase learning capacity
- High levels of antioxidants in berries protect cells, including brain cells
- Chemicals in berries protect the brain against inflammation, improving cognitive and motor skills
It’s easy to add berries to your child’s diet. Offer raw berries as a snack any time of day. Offer berries as a dessert after a meal, or include them as an integral part of your child’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The benefits to your child’s body and brain are numerous, and you probably will hear no complaints about putting fresh berries on your child’s plate.
All Kinds Of Veggies
The more vegetables you can add to your child’s diet, the better. As with any type of food, you may want to introduce new veggies gradually, one at a time. Add a small amount at first, and as your child gets used to it, increase the portions.
Here’s a partial list of brain-boosting vegetables and the nutrition bonanza found in each:
- Broccoli: This vegetable is rich in glucosinolates, which the body breaks down into isothiocyanates. These protect cells against stress. In addition, the vitamin C and flavonoids found in broccoli boost brain power.
- Kale, Spinach, & Other Leafy Greens: Whether you cook them or serve them raw in salads, sandwiches, and more, these leafy greens provide you and your preschooler with important antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that support the brain’s health.
- Red Cabbage: Your preschooler may love the deep, rich color of red cabbage! These vegetables provide polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help the brain.
- Tomatoes: Technically, they’re fruits, but most people still think of them as vegetables! One of the many nutrients you’ll find in tomatoes is lycopene, which improves mood. When preschoolers are in a better mood, they’re calmer and more receptive to learning new things!
Beans And Legumes
This group of healthy foods offers a wide range of nutrients. Some of the benefits include the following:
- Together, the complex carbohydrates and fiber found in beans and legumes slows absorption down, which means the brain gets a steady supply of glucose instead of experiencing a dangerous spike.
- Beans and legumes contain large quantities of folate, a B vitamin that’s needed for healthy brain function.
- These foods also contain essential omega fatty acids, which the brain needs for maintaining good communication between cells.
As you can see, there are several terrific reasons for feeding your preschooler a healthy, varied diet rich in berries, vegetables, beans, legumes, grains (including oatmeal), and peanut butter (assuming there are no peanut allergies). It’s never too late to start incorporating these healthful foods into your preschooler’s snacks and meals. Get started today!
Is Your Preschooler Ready For A Great Education?
At Rainbow Chimes in Huntington, NY, we thoroughly believe in early childhood education programs that boost preschoolers’ brain power! We invite you to tour our facility and see if we’re right for your child. If your preschooler is ready for a great education, we’re confident they’ll find it here at Rainbow Chimes! Get in touch with us today.