13 Best Vegan Foods For Your Kids' Brain Health
If you have or care for children, you most likely want to ensure that they are well fed so that they can enjoy a healthy life.
Nutrition is essential for many aspects of health, including brain development and function. The first couple of years of a child's existence is marked by rapid brain development. By the time your child reaches the age of two, their brain has grown to 80 percent of its adult size.
During adolescence, your child's brain continues to develop, notably in the prefrontal cortex, also known as the “personality center.” This is the part of the brain that is responsible for executive processes such as planning, memory, and decision-making.
Trusted Source PubMed Central (Database from the National Institutes of Health)
Continue reading to learn about the top 13 vegan food for kids' brain health with nutrients.
1. Dark Chocolate
Is there a good reason to eat more chocolate in your diet? Please, yes! Because it lacks the milk proteins found in white or milk chocolate, most high cocoa content chocolate is vegan-friendly. Dark chocolate is naturally rich in molecules called ‘flavonoids,' which penetrate and accumulate in the areas of the brain involved in learning and memory, which is wonderful news for brain health.
This not only improves cognitive function but also helps to minimize the effects of ageing on the brain and eliminates brain fog.
Nutrition In Dark Chocolate
A 101-g bar of dark chocolate with 70–85 percent cocoa solids, according to the US Department of Agriculture, provides:
- Calories: 604
- Fat: 43.06 g
- Dietary fibre: 11 g
- Protein: 7.87 g
- Carbohydrates: 46.36 g
- Iron: 12.02 mg
- Magnesium: 230.00 mg
- Zinc: 3.34 mg
- Sugar: 24.23 g
Risks And Factors To Consider
The flavanols found in cacao solids are principally responsible for dark chocolate's health advantages.
However, the amount of flavanol in dark chocolate varies. The flavanol concentration of chocolate can also be affected by differences in processing processes between producers.
Chocolate makers are not required by law to publish the flavanol content of their goods. Dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cacao solids, on the other hand, should have more flavanols.
Despite the fact that dark chocolate includes essential antioxidants and minerals, it is typically heavy in sugar and fat, making it a calorie-dense snack.
Cocoa butter, which is mostly made up of unhealthy saturated fats, is found in dark chocolate.
As a result, you should aim to restrict their dark chocolate consumption to prevent consuming too many calories, fats, and sugars.
Dark chocolate, on average, contains less sugar than milk and white chocolate. Dark chocolate with higher cacao solids content often has even less sugar. Because the amount of sugar in chocolate varies depending on the manufacturer, it's a good idea to read the nutrition label.
Is it possible for blueberries to go wrong?! These small but strong berries are a plant-based nutrition powerhouse in a small package.
They're high in antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which battle free radicals to protect the brain from disease and slow down the ageing process.
According to research, eating a lot of blueberries can aid with memory, intelligence, and cognitive function.
Blueberries are low in calories and fat, but they do contain a good quantity of fibre.
Nutrition In Blueberries
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of raw blueberries has the following nutrients:
- Calories: 57
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Water: 84%
- Protein: 0.7 grams
- Fibre: 2.4 grams
- Sugar: 10 grams
- Carbs: 14.5 grams
Avocados have earned their place in the spotlight as a plant-powered superfood by being associated with the vegan diet.
Avocados have a high density of healthy monounsaturated fats, which aid to support heart health and, as a result, increase blood flow to the brain, keeping it naturally fueled all day. They also assist in the protection of glial cells in the nervous system.
Nutrition In Avocados
The dietary data for around one-half of an avocado, or 68 grams (g), are as follows, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI):
- Calories- 114
- Magnesium- 19.5 mg
- Dietary fiber- 6 g
- Total sugar- 0.2 g
- Sodium- 5.5 mg
- Potassium- 345 milligrams
- Vitamin E- 1.3 mg
- Vitamin K- 14 μg
- Vitamin B-6 0.2 mg
- Monounsaturated fatty acids- 6.7 g
- Vitamin A- 43 micrograms (μg)
How Can You Serve Avocados For Your Child
There are no culinary bounds when it comes to avocados! Though we're used to seeing avocados spread on toast, put into salads, or blended into smoothies, the Dairy Council points out that pureed avocado milk and even avocado ice cream are popular in the Philippines and Brazil. Overall, this adaptable fruit pairs nicely with practically anything, including soups, salads, dips, desserts, smoothies, and as a breakfast addition, or simply dusted with salt and pepper on its own.
Tomatoes, like many colourful meals, are high in plant-based antioxidants. This includes a particular antioxidant known as ‘lycopene.'
Lycopene is a potent phytonutrient that acts within the brain to prevent cellular damage that leads to dementia, notably Alzheimer's disease.
Lycopene and other carotenoids help to protect fat in the body, which is vital for brain health because our brains are 60% fat.
Cooking your tomatoes in a healthy oil like avocado or coconut oil will help you absorb more of this fat-soluble component.
Nutrition In Tomatoes
The water content of tomatoes is around 95%. The other 5% consists mainly of carbohydrates and fibre.
Here are the nutrients in a small (100-gram) raw tomato: Trusted Source (USDA Food Composition Databases)
- Calories- 18
- Water- 95%
- Fiber- 1.2 grams
- Protein- 0.9 grams
- Sugar- 2.6 grams
- Carbs- 3.9 grams
- Fat- 0.2 grams
Minerals And Vitamins
Tomatoes are high in the vitamins and minerals listed below:
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. This vitamin is a necessary nutrient as well as an antioxidant. A medium-sized tomato can provide about 28% of the Daily Reference Intake (RDI).
Potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral that helps to control blood pressure and avoid heart disease.
Vitamin K1 is an essential nutrient. Phylloquinone, or vitamin K, is required for blood coagulation and bone health.
Folate is a B vitamin that can be found in a variety of foods (vitamin B9). Folate is a B vitamin that is necessary for proper tissue growth and cell function. It's especially crucial for expectant mothers.
5. Green Tea
Green tea extract has been proven to activate a working memory-related part of the brain, which increases memory and learning capacity.
Green tea includes L-Theanine, an amino acid that can pass the blood-brain barrier and enhance the production of neurotransmitters like GABA, which can help the brain cope with stress and anxiety.
Green tea also contains EGCG, an antioxidant that has been found to boost mitochondrial function and protect cells from harm in the brain.
Green tea's brain-boosting properties are also thought to be boosted by increased blood flow to the brain.
Nutrition In Green Tea
(245grams) Green Tea includes
- Sodium: 2.5mgmilligrams
- Protein: 0.5ggrams
- Potassium: 20mg
6. Seeds & Nuts
Both nuts and seeds are high in good fats, which give the brain energy and aid in the replenishment of individual neurons and brain cells.
They're also high in minerals like zinc, which has been proved to improve memory, and magnesium, which helps the body regulate stress and has a positive influence on mood.
Seeds are notably high in ‘tryptophan,' an important amino acid that is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, sometimes known as the happy hormone.
Nuts are high in Vitamin E, which protects cell membranes from damage and thus helps to prevent cognitive loss. This is especially true as we approach our 30s when the brain gradually begins to contract.
Nutrition In Nuts
Nuts are highly nutritious. One ounce (28 grams) of mixed nuts contains :
- Calories- 173
- Fiber- 3 grams
- Protein- 5 grams
- Fat- 16 grams with 9 grams of monounsaturated fat
- Carbs- 6 grams
- Copper- 23% of the RDI
- Vitamin E- 12% of the RDI
- Selenium- 56% of the RDI
- Phosphorus- 13% of the RDI
- Magnesium- 16% of the RDI
- Manganese-26% of the RDI
Certain nutrients are more abundant in some nuts than in others. One Brazil nut, for example, contains more than 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for selenium.
Nuts have a wide range of carbohydrate content. Cashews provide almost 8 grams of digestible carbs per serving, compared to less than 2 grams in hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts.
Nuts, on the other hand, are an excellent low-carb food.
Nuts can be eaten whole, as nut butter, or broken up and sprinkled on food.
They're commonly accessible in grocery stores and online and come in a range of salted, unsalted, seasoned, plain, raw, or roasted varieties.
In general, eating nuts raw or toasting them in the oven at a temperature below 350°F (175°C) is the healthiest option. The next best option is dry-roasted nuts, but avoid nuts that have been toasted in vegetable or seed oils.
Nuts can be stored at room temperature, making them convenient for on-the-go snacking and travel. If you plan on storing them for an extended period of time, a refrigerator or freezer will keep them fresher.
Types Of Nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Cashew nuts
- Pine nuts
Please note that peanuts are legumes, they are classified as nuts due to their similar characteristics to other tree nuts.
Types Of Seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Psyllium seeds
- Flax seeds
- Poppy seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Chia seeds
7. Algae-Based Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids are derived from algae.
Omega-3 is the most crucial of all the items suggested here to include in your diet because it is the most difficult to obtain. This is particularly true of DHA, the most beneficial Omega-3 fatty acid, which accounts for 10-15% of brain fat.
DHA is an essential brain nutrient that promotes brain health throughout one's life. From assisting proper brain development in infants to boosting cognition in adults and preventing neurodegenerative illness later in life, there is a lot to learn.
Omega-3 supplementation has been related to a wide range of mental health benefits, including:
- Neuroplasticity is a term that refers to the ability to change one's mind.
- Getting Rid of Anxiety Symptoms.
- Reducing the Risk of Depression by Increasing Alertness and Removing Brain Fog.
- Delaying the onset of Alzheimer's disease and age-related dementia.
DHA is tough to come by in today's diet. This is especially true if you're a vegan or don't consume a lot of fatty fish because it's not available in fruits or vegetables. Although nuts and seeds do contain Omega-3, they do so in the form of ALA, which has no discernible benefits for the brain.
Algae is the sole plant-based source of omega-3 DHA, but it's not always easy to incorporate into your diet.
The good news is that there is a quick and easy approach to absorb Omega-3 DHA without eating fish.
8. Whole Grains
Whole grains with a low glycemic index, such as brown cereals, rice, and pasta, can help you stay intellectually attentive. These foods may also help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Whole Grains Include:
- Brown rice
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers
Beans, such as black beans and lentils, can help keep blood glucose levels stable. This is critical for brain function because the brain relies on glucose or fuel for energy but cannot store it.
Beans can be used in a variety of dishes, including chilli, nachos, burritos, and even burger patties.
Nutrition In Beans
Nutritional profiles differ from one bean to the next. However, as an example, 1 cup (171 gram) of boiled pinto beans offers:
- Protein: 15 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbs: 45 grams
- Fiber: 15 grams
- Iron: 20% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Calcium: 8% of the DV
- Magnesium: 21% of the DV
- Phosphorous: 25% of the DV
- Potassium: 21% of the DV
- Folate: 74% of the DV
Bananas, which are high in B vitamins, can help to protect the brain as we age and improve memory. They're also high in magnesium, which can aid in the communication of nerve cells in the brain.
Bananas are a terrific morning food and easy lunchbox addition, and they may also be used to make vegan ice cream.
Nutrition in Banana
The following are the nutritional values for one medium-sized banana (100 grams):
- Calories: 89
- Water: 75%
- Carbs: 22.8 grams
- Protein: 1.1 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Sugar: 12.2 grams
- Fibre: 2.6 grams
Dementia, Alzheimer's, and other age-related brain deterioration, according to studies, could be connected to a vitamin C deficit, which broccoli is high in. The vitamin may also aid in the reduction of anxiety and tension. Broccoli is high in vitamin K, containing more than 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) in just one cup, which can help with cognitive function.
Glucosinolates, which are vital for central nervous system function, are abundant in the vegetable. Broccoli contains more protein per calorie than steak, so add a bunch to any soup, curry, or pasta dish for a protein boost.
Nutrition In Broccoli
Raw broccoli contains almost 90% water, 7% carbs, 3% protein, and almost no fat. Broccoli has a low-calorie content, with only 31 calories per cup (91 grams).
The following are the nutritional values for 1 cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli:
- Calories: 31
- Fat: 0.4 grams
- Water: 89%
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fiber: 2.4 grams
- Protein: 2.5 grams
- Sugar: 1.5 grams
Due to their sweet flavour, oranges are a favorite citrus fruit among children. Including oranges in your child's diet may help to improve his or her overall health, as well as their cognitive health.
Flavonoids such as hesperidin and narirutin are abundant in oranges. Orange juice is, in fact, one of the most widely consumed sources of flavonoids.
Flavonoid-rich foods and beverages, such as oranges and orange juice, have been shown in studies to improve nerve activity and blood flow to the brain, potentially improving cognitive function.
Oranges are particularly high in vitamin C, an important mineral for brain function. Vitamin C is required for brain growth, neurotransmitter synthesis, and other functions.
When compared to having vitamin C insufficiency, studies in adults reveal that having optimal blood levels of vitamin C is connected with superior performance on tasks involving focus, working memory, attention, recall, decision speed, and recognition.
Nutrition In Orange
One medium-sized orange has:
- Calories- 60
- Carbohydrates-15.4 grams
- Fiber- 3 grams
- Protein- 1 gram
- Sugar- 12 grams
- Vitamin A-0 14 micrograms
- 6% of your daily recommended amount of calcium
- Potassium- 237 milligrams
- Vitamin C- 70 milligrams
13. Green Leafy Vegetables
It can be difficult to encourage your child to eat leafy greens, yet research shows that they are beneficial to children's brain health.
Brain-protecting substances can be found in green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and lettuce, such as folate, flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamins E and K1.
According to one study, children with appropriate folate consumption scored higher on cognitive tests than children with insufficient folate intake.
Furthermore, studies suggest that a diet rich in carotenoid-rich foods, such as leafy greens, can help children's cognitive function.
Leafy greens are high in carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. When you eat these, they build up in the retina, which is a component of your eye. The quantity of these pigments in the eye is measured by macular pigment optical density (MPOD).MPOD has been associated with improved cognitive performance in children in some studies.
A nutritious, well-balanced diet is essential for your child's general health, as well as their mental wellness.
Certain nutrients and foods, such as seafood, eggs, berries, and others on this list, have been found to be particularly beneficial for brain function and cognitive performance in studies.
Including the items listed above in your child's diet can help them get the nutrients they need to grow and perform at their best.
I trust you enjoyed this article on the 13 Best Vegan Foods For Your Kids' Brain Health. Please stay tuned for more blog posts to come shortly. Take care!
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