The Importance of Providing High Fibre Foods for Children
Dietary fibre includes the components of plant-based foods that cannot be digested or absorbed by the body. It may not seem like fibre provides many benefits, so why are health professionals constantly telling us to eat more fibre? In addition to promoting regular and healthy bowel movements, a diet rich in fibre also reduces the risk of heart disease, controls blood sugar levels, lowers blood cholesterol levels, and ensures proper weight management. All of these factors are important for adults and can be especially important for the healthy development of a child.
When your child consumes high-fibre foods, the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and water from the food moves through the wall of the intestines and into the bloodstream. The fibre from these foods stays within the intestines to perform all of benefits mentioned above.
How much fibre should your child consume each day to achieve the most health benefits? According the American Heart Association, parents should encourage their children to eat the following amounts of fibre each day:
- 1-3 years: 19 grams
- 4-8 years: 25 grams
- 9-13 years: 26-31 grams
- 14-18 years: 29-38 grams
You will find fibre content on the labels of packed food products including high-fibre foods such as whole grain breads, cereals, pasta and brown rice. In addition to whole grain products, it is essential to incorporate plenty of fruit and vegetables into your child’s diet. Fruit and vegetables provide a great deal of fibre in addition to vitamins and minerals. Beans are also an excellent source of fibre.
The following list includes examples of high-fibre foods and their fibre content:
- 1 medium apple: 4 grams fibre
- 1 medium banana: 3 grams fibre
- ½ cup blackberries: 4.4 grams fibre
- ½ cup broccoli: 4 grams fibre
- ½ cup peas: 9.1 grams fibre
- 1 medium yam: 6.8 grams fibre
- 1/2 cup cooked kidney beans: 8 grams fibre
- ½ cup cooked black beans: 9.7 grams fibre
For more information about high fibre foods for children, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a dietitian and nutritionist.