Superfoods for super babies
You have probably heard the media hype around superfoods. It's quite a controversial area as many people believe that the term is nothing but a marketing device designed to get us to spend money on exotic sounding foreign foods. At Bump & Beyond Nutrition we define superfoods as nutrient-dense foods considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. So-called superfoods are really just everyday foods with an unusually high content of antioxidants, vitamins or other nutrients so with that in mind, here are our top 'super-foods' to include in your babies diet.
Beetroot is a perfect first food as it's sweet vegetable which babies take a liking to quickly. Beetroot is a good source of folic acid and is high in potassium and beta- carotene. Roast or steam them until they’re super-soft and then either cut into chunks for baby led weaning or mash them.
Kale boasts high amounts of iron, vitamin c and folate and is rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeazanthin which protect the eye and aid in its development. These amazing leaves also provide good amounts of calcium and vitamin K which are superb bone builders (studies show that vitamin K is needed to activate bone proteins) to help give your baby a strong skeleton. Kale should be lightly steamed and served with healthy fats such as coconut oil or grass fed butter to enhance the absorption of fat soluble vitamins.
Coconuts are an incredible first fruit as they contain medium chain fatty acids, principally lauric acid, which are similar to those found in human breast milk and scarcely found anywhere else in nature! Lauric acid can boost the immune system, improve digestion and balance the blood sugar. Fresh coconut meat is an excellent addition to any smoothie or puree and it can be eaten as a finger food. Coconut flour can be used for baking and is a fantastic gluten-free flour alternative. It's high in protein and packed with fibre, essential fats and the natural sweetness means there is less need for sugar
Avocados are one of our top super foods and a favourite in my household because they are a great source of monounsaturated fat which is required for healthy brain development. Avocados are also the perfect baby fast food as all you need to do is mash it or chop it into chunks for baby led weaning.
The African super-fruit Baobab contains six times more vitamin C than oranges, twice as much calcium as milk and more iron than a steak! It also boasts more antioxidants than blueberries, cranberries or pomegranates and it tastes amazing. It's rare to come across fresh Baobab in the UK but you can buy the powdered version and sprinkle a little into any fruit purée.
Chia seeds are worth a mention as they contain a higher ratio of antioxidants than blueberries and have more calcium than whole milk. They are also very high in omega-3s, magnesium, fibre, iron, potassium and protein. You can add them to baby's porridge, soups, muffins and smoothies.
Sweet potatoes are much higher in vitamins and minerals than white potatoes and they help to stabilise blood sugar levels and keep little stomachs feeling fuller for longer periods of time. To retain the most nutrients they should be baked in the oven and then mashed with grass fed butter - delicious! For BLW you can cut into thick wedges, drizzle with olive oil and oven bake.
Shitaki mushrooms are a nutritional powerhouse and an excellent addition to anyone's diet, especially your babies. They are a rich source of B vitamins, selenium, copper and zinc. They are also a good source of vitamin d which is hard to come by. Did you know that around 50% of us have insufficient levels of vitamin d and that it is vital for healthy bone development? It is also important that all mushrooms are well cooked before serving.
Okra is a good source of various vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B, thiamin, niacin, folate and vitamin E. All these vitamins play important role in babies physical and mental development. Okra has a laxative effect as it supplies the essential dietary fibre that enables smooth bowel movement and therefore reduces the risk of constipation. Regular consumption of okra also increases a baby/child’s blood count. Because of okra's slimy texture it is difficult to make it into a smooth puree so its best to wait until the baby is big enough to chew the fingers (nine months or above).
Egg yolks are a top superfood as they supply cholesterol, which is needed for mental development as well as vitamin A and amino acids. Organic, cage-free chicken’s eggs also contain omega-3 fatty acids that stimulate brain development. Eggs can be hard boiled and the yolks either crumbled into purees or sliced and offered for baby led weaning.
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