Iron deficiency is highly prevalent in India. If you thought that it only affects children from lower income backgrounds, think again. Apart from macronutrients like carbohydrates and proteins, minerals like iron are needed because without it our body would not be able to create haemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to our lungs. With children turning more to fast food and nutrient-empty meals to fill their tummies, urban children not only face issues related to obesity, but also face health issues related to various deficiencies.
What are the kinds of foods that your child should be eating to ensure they have enough iron in their diet? Here are 5 iron-rich foods that you can include in your child’s meal plan.
- Chickpeas: A hugely popular legume, most children love the classic chola-channa. Each cup of chickpeas will supply your child with 5mg of iron, in addition to much needed protein. You can include chickpeas in your child’s snackbox as part of a salad, in pasta, with puris, rice or parathas.
- Soybeans: Soybeans are such amazing little beans. They give your child 4 mg iron in a cup, in addition to giving your child protein, fibre, and minerals like copper and manganese to keep his/her immune system and blood vessels healthy. You can serve them as a gravy dish with dinner, or in salads and noodles. You can sprout them or include them in your diet as tofu, soya milk and soya granules or nuggets.
- Masoor or lentils: Whole lentils or black masoor will give your child up to 7mg iron in every cup. Whether you serve them with rice or in soups and salads, or pick up a packet of dry roasted mixture to pack in your child’s snack box, this lentil will fill your child with fibre, protein and will help keep your little one’s blood sugar level stable throughout the day.
- Spinach and other greens: One bowl of cooked spinach provides 6mg iron in addition to calcium, protein, Vitamin A and E. If your child, like so many others, refuses to eat his/her greens, then combine with cheese/paneer, and boiled corn to stuff in paranthas or sandwiches. Add pureed spinach to idli batter to make exciting green idlis, or make spinach pakoras for a special treat.
- Sesame seeds: Til are tiny seeds that pack a powerful punch. Whether you sprinkle them over your salads, into your chutneys or incorporate it into your chapatti dough, sesame seeds will supply you with 20mg of iron in a cup measure of seeds. In addition, it is a great source of calcium, zinc, manganese, copper and many other important minerals. Pack sesame chikkis and laddoos, sesame seed crackers and biscuits or simply sprinkle these invisible seeds into your child’s sandwiches.
When we have fussy little eaters, we tend to focus more on getting them to eat just about anything to get them through the day. Thoughtful meal plans, keeping your child’s tastes in mind will help lower any risks of your child suffering from iron deficiencies.