Protein: The Right nutrient for Growing Strong
We want our kids to have a good start in life. So along with the right education, security and health, we want to make sure that they get the best nutrition to grow healthy and strong. The foundation for this is adequate and high-quality PROTEIN.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body and play an important role in both physical and mental development.
5 amazing benefits of protein 1,2:
• Builds and repairs muscle
• Helps cells grow
• Supports healthy metabolism
• Supports immune system development
• Produces hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to all parts of the body
A child between 4 and 8 years of age needs 19 grams of protein/day and 34 grams/day by the time they reach age 9-123
Now that we’ve established that protein is important, how do we ensure that our child gets high quality proteins in their daily diet. And what exactly are ‘high-quality proteins’ anyway?
Proteins are made up of amino acids. There are 20 types of amino acids, of which 9 are considered essential. When a food source contains all the essential amino acids, it’s called a ‘high quality protein’.
High quality proteins are found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy products. Plant sources also contain a good amount of protein, especially when you mix up legumes (e.g. beans, lentils & chick peas), with grains (e.g. rice, pasta, bread). For eg. a nourishing protein-rich meal would be something as simple as peanut butter on toast.
There are a number of ways that we can combine food groups to make sure our kids tuck into high-quality protein while enjoying food that they love such as below. You can also provide 2 servings of milk a day to increase their protein intake!
• Grilled cheese sandwich
• Scrambled egg with cheese
• Hummus with vegetable sticks or crackers
• Veggie burger
• Peanut butter and jam sandwich
• Yoghurt parfait with fruit
• Wholegrain cereals with fruits and milk
Giving our kids a balanced and wholesome diet will ensure that they get the high-quality proteins they need to grow healthy and strong. Fortunately, most sources of protein tend to be kid-friendly foods, especially milk which is simple and convenient to prepare. So mums, let’s incorporate these ideas in our daily menu and ensure our kids grow well.
1. Emily Arentson-Lantz, Stephanie Clairmont, Douglas Paddon-Jones, Angelo Tremblay, and Rajavel Elango. Protein: A nutrient in focus. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 40(8): 755-761.
2. Janet Bryan, Ph D, Saskia Osendarp, Ph D, Donna Hughes, MPsych, Eva Calvaresi, MPsych, Katrine Baghurst, Ph D, Jan-Willem van Klinken, Ph D, Nutrients for Cognitive Development in School-aged Children, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 62, Issue 8, August 2004, Pages 295–306
3. WHO/FAO/UNU (2007)