Parents have been advised to boost their children’s brain power by providing them from young age with the right foods that will help increase their mental agility, improve their memory and help fight disease like dementia later in life.
“Brain foods are good booster for the brain as they give it power and enhances its function, so it is important for parents to be aware of the right food categories that can help their wards,” Hamad Medical Corporation’s paediatric dietitian Celine Jour said.
According to Jour, to ensure brain alertness, foods high in omega H3 such as salmon fish should be given to a child at least twice per week and those containing potassium like bananas should also be included in meals regularly.
“Salmon is the best source of omega H3 and fatty acid, the good concentration of which could help decrease dementia later on. Spinach is also a good food that prevents quick ageing of the brain,” she explained.
“There is good evidence to suggest that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s,” she said.
Other foods that are good for the brain include lean beef, cheese, walnut, peanut butter, potatoes, milk, yoghurt, eggs, wheat and liver, fish, chicken, lentils, beans and peas.
“It is advisable to give children lean beef from cow only as mutton is very high in fat and that is not too good for their heart. Also, cheese and walnuts (not roasted or fried) are very good while peanut butter should be preferred over other unhealthy choices as it is very high in vitamin E and it’s a very good antioxidant,” Jour said.
She said that potatoes help maintain good glucose blood level while milk is very important for brain cells development as it contains vitamin B12.
“It is recommended that children aged from one to three years should drink two to three glasses of milk daily while those aged from six years should at least consume a glass of milk per day,” she said.
The dietitian also suggested that cheese and yoghurt should be included in daily meals as well to supply children with the much needed calcium for healthy bones and teeth.
“Being smart is related to good nutrition, so it is good for parents to always ensure their children eat a rich array of food and get the right nutrients that will help grow well, have good memory and improve their general well being,” she said.
However, Jour also suggested that to encourage children to eat healthy, parents should explain the importance of each food type aside from inviting them to shop for food items as well as involving them in preparation.
“Apart from encouraging children to partake in the whole process of food making, they should be encouraged to eat slowly to detect their hunger, this could take between 15-30 minutes,” she explained adding that children should be prevented from eating in front of the television to avoid over-eating.
Children should also be encouraged to drink a good amount of water (between one-and-half to two litres) daily, she said.
“Children will get us to eating healthy and balanced diets when they begin by taking to school healthy snacks such as a handful of fruits, pop corns, some vegetables and fresh salads,” she maintained.