Top “Brain Foods” for Kids

Sep 12, 2023 Healthy EatingKids' HealthRecipes 7 MIN

Top “Brain Foods” for Kids

We want our kids to get the best nutrition we can give them, and when we prepare their breakfast, pack their lunch, and pick what's for dinner, we must use our brains, make smart decisions and choose nutritious foods to ensure they get the support they need!

Thankfully, there's a wide variety of nutritious foods that your kid's body (and taste buds) will love!

Blueberries

Blueberries can add a pop of color to your child's lunchbox! Blueberries are a great snack food that provide a good source of Vitamin C that can help support your child's immune system. They also contain phytochemicals such as anthocyanin that provide antioxidant support.[1]†

Blueberries can be served fresh as a snack or easily tossed into breakfast cereals, yogurt, or smoothies for added nutrition and flavor. Give your go-to baked goods, such as muffins or pancakes, a delightful and nutritious upgrade by adding blueberries into the mix. Not only will they give your treats a burst of flavor, but they will also boost their nutritional value, making them even more enjoyable and nourishing.

Easy Blueberry Muffin

Easy Blueberry Muffin Recipe

  • Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
  • Whisk 1/3 cup oil, 1/2 cup milk, and 1 egg in a separate bowl.
  • Combine bowls, and fold in 1 cup of blueberries to mixture.
  • Pour mixture into a muffin tray and place in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes.
  • Safely transfer to a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Eggs

The quintessential breakfast food, eggs are a classic for good reason! Packed with protein, Vitamin B12 (necessary for normal function of the nervous system), and Choline (which helps support a healthy brain), eggs are an (over-)easy choice for a morning meal![2][3]†

The versatility of eggs makes them incredibly easy to incorporate into your child's diet. They can be prepared in various ways, such as scrambled, boiled, or made into omelets with a wide range of fixings, including veggies and cheese. Whether enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, eggs offer a simple and nutritious option to fuel your child's day.

Spinach-Mushroom Omelet

Spinach-Mushroom Omelet Recipe

  • Whisk 2 eggs in a large bowl.
  • Fold in 1 cup baby spinach, 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
  • Pour mixture into an oiled pan over medium heat. Fold over egg for 1 minute until firm, then remove from heat. Enjoy!

Leafy Greens

Depending on the cartoon you're watching, leafy greens like spinach are either the bane of children everywhere or a source of sailor super-strength. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. While your kids may not be clamoring for kale, leafy greens can be easily incorporated into kid-friendly meals. On top of that, they're a great source of Vitamin A to support healthy vision, Vitamin C to help support a healthy immune system, Vitamin K to support healthy bones, and essential minerals such as Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium![4]†

With some creativity, you can easily incorporate leafy greens into your child's diet in ways they'll love. For example, they can be added to smoothies, salads, or sandwiches. Sautéed spinach or kale can be included in pasta dishes or even used as a topping for homemade pizzas!

Kate Smoothie

Kale Smoothie Recipe

  • Add 1 cup kale, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, and 1 cup water, milk, or milk alternative to a large blender.
  • Blend on high for two minutes or until smooth.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a tasty way to get beneficial probiotics in your child's diet.[5] Probiotics are beneficial "good bacteria" in fermented foods like yogurt, which can help crowd out the "bad bacteria" in your gut and support digestive health! Yogurt also has protein, Calcium, and B-Vitamins, so your child gets support in each spoonful.[5]†

Yogurt

Yogurt is incredibly versatile and can be served as a standalone snack or as a base for delicious smoothies. With a variety of flavors and textures available, you'll find a wide range of options that appeal to your child's tastes. Just be sure to check the label for added sugars, which are present in many flavored yogurts. Instead, try plain Greek yogurt—higher in protein than your average yogurt —and mix in berries and fruits for a sweet addition that adds essential nutrients.

Beans

Though neither magical nor fruit, as the apocryphal rhyme goes, beans can provide your kids with a dose of essential nutrients like fiber and protein.[6] Fiber helps support a healthy digestive tract by feeding your gut microbiome. Getting a combination of probiotic bacteria and prebiotic fiber from dietary or supplemental sources maximizes the benefit of both.[7]†

Incorporating beans into a child's diet is remarkably easy, as they can be added to various meals and snacks. You can include them in soups, stews, or chili, blend them into dips like hummus, or even incorporate them into plant-based homemade burgers or meatballs. Additionally, beans can be a versatile ingredient in salads, wraps, and various side dishes.

Bean Dip

Simple Bean Dip Recipe

  • Drain 1 can of black beans.
  • Chop 1 clove of garlic and 1 small red bell pepper.
  • Add ½ cup salsa of your choice and salt to taste.
  • Add all ingredients to blender or food processor, blend until a fine paste.
  • Eat with chips, carrots, or your kid’s favorite dipping food!

Avocado

The perennial millennial favorite, avocados, contains healthy fats and may help keep your child feeling full longer. Avocados also include Folate, which helps support cellular energy production and nervous system function.[8]†

Avocado can be mashed and spread on whole-grain toast as a nutritious and delicious alternative to butter or mayonnaise. It can also be added to smoothies, blended into dips like guacamole, or used as a creamy base for sauces and dressings. The mild and creamy flavor of avocado makes it an ideal addition to a wide range of meals and snacks.

Guacamole

Easy Guacamole Recipe

  • Mash three avocados in a bowl, add diced onion and diced tomato. Mix in with cilantro.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, squeeze 1 small lime, and mix well. Eat with chips!

Sweet Potato

If you're looking for a sweet and tasty way to get Vitamin A, the sweet potato offers almost 100% the Daily Value in just one potato! Sweet potatoes also provide Manganese for antioxidant support to protect cells from oxidative stress, and other great nutrients like B-Vitamins and Fiber![9, 10] The sweet potato may make you think of Thanksgiving, but your kid will be giving thanks for tasty meals all year round.†

Baked sweet potato may be a tastier alternative to your regular, buttery baked potato. Kids, famously, love French fries, and it's easy to make healthy sweet potato fries, particularly if you have an air fryer, so you don't have to use as much oil.

Sweet Potato Fries

Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries

  • Dice two sweet potatoes into thin square-cut slices.
  • Mix in a bowl with 1 tablespoon oil and toss with salt, pepper, garlic powder.
  • Lay along the bottom of the air fryer and heat at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool.

The Bottom Line

With the back-to-school season around the corner, it's the perfect time to prioritize fueling your child's brain and body with the best foods, setting the stage for their academic success! From the antioxidant and immune system support of blueberries to the fiber and digestive benefits of beans, there is no shortage of nutritious foods to help support your child as they take on and overcome the year's academic challenges.†

By incorporating these foods into your child's diet, you can provide them with the essential nutrients they need to get through the school day. Remember, the key is to create a balanced and varied approach to their meals, introducing a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. If you're looking for a tasty way to help fill your child's potential nutrient gaps, Nature Made® Kids First® Multivitamin + Omega-3 Gummies are specially formulated to help kids' growing bodies get the daily nutritional support they need. With the proper nutrition, you can help your kids thrive, empowering them to reach their learning potential.†


† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


References

  1. Blueberries, raw. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171711/nutrients. Published April 1, 2019. Accessed August 9, 2023.
  2. Eggs, Grade A, Large, egg whole. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/748967/nutrients. Published December 16, 2019. Accessed August 9, 2023.
  3. Réhault-Godbert S, Guyot N, Nys Y. The Golden Egg: Nutritional Value, Bioactivities, and Emerging Benefits for Human Health. Nutrients. 2019;11(3):684. Published 2019 Mar 22. doi:10.3390/nu11030684 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470839/
  4. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables: USDA ARS. www.ars.usda.gov. https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables. Published August 13, 2016. Accessed August 9, 2023.
  5. Fernandez MA, Marette A. Potential Health Benefits of Combining Yogurt and Fruits Based on Their Probiotic and Prebiotic Properties. Adv Nutr. 2017;8(1):155S-164S. Published 2017 Jan 17. doi:10.3945/an.115.011114 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5227968/
  6. Polak R, Phillips EM, Campbell A. Legumes: Health Benefits and Culinary Approaches to Increase Intake. Clin Diabetes. 2015;33(4):198-205. doi:10.2337/diaclin.33.4.198 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4608274/
  7. Pandey KR, Naik SR, Vakil BV. Probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics- a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2015;52(12):7577-7587. doi:10.1007/s13197-015-1921-1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4648921/
  8.  Office of dietary supplements - Folate. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Accessed August 25, 2023. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/.
  9. Laveriano-Santos EP, López-Yerena A, Jaime-Rodríguez C, et al. Sweet Potato Is Not Simply an Abundant Food Crop: A Comprehensive Review of Its Phytochemical Constituents, Biological Activities, and the Effects of Processing. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022;11(9):1648. Published 2022 Aug 25. doi:10.3390/antiox11091648 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9495970/
  10. Sweet potato, raw, unprepared. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168482/nutrients. Published April 1, 2019. Accessed August 9, 2023.

Authors

Emily Hirsch, MS, RD

NatureMade Contributor

Emily has over a decade of experience in the field of nutrition. In her writing, she strives to bring lackluster research on health and nutrition topics to life. She loves writing about GI health and women’s issues. Find her at www.southcharlottenutrition.com

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Graham Morris

NatureMade Copywriter

Graham has a degree in film with a focus on screenwriting from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He enjoys learning new things and finding the best, most engaging way to communicate them to a wide audience. Graham appreciates simplicity in life and nutrition, and wants to find the easiest, no-stress ways to stay healthy.

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Lynn M. Laboranti, RD

Science and Health Educator

Lynn is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) and is a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. She has over 20 years of experience in integrative and functional nutrition and has given lectures to health professionals and consumers on nutrition, dietary supplements and related health issues. Lynn frequently conducts employee trainings on various nutrition topics in addition to educating retail partners on vitamins, minerals and supplements. Lynn has previous clinical dietitian expertise in both acute and long-term care, as well as nutrition counseling for weight management, diabetes, and sports nutrition. Lynn earned a bachelor’s of science in Nutrition with a minor in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from The Pennsylvania State University. She earned a M.S. degree in Human Nutrition from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Lynn is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Dietitians in Functional Medicine, and holds a certification in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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