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All Fats Are Not Created Equal
For children ages 5 to 12, nearly a third of the daily calories in the healthy foods we provide should come from fat. Fat is an essential part of growing and being healthy, and the NUTRITION FACTS label can help you steer clear of the fats that are not particularly healthy. Trans fat is one type of fat found in processed foods that you should avoid entirely. Saturated fat is a second type of problem fat that you can easily eat too much of if you are not careful. Low-fat dairy products, avocados, no-sugar added peanut butter or almond butter, and modest amounts of foods prepared in olive, canola or peanut oil are healthy options for kids to get the fat they need.
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The “So What?” about Sodium
We all need sodium (also known as salt) but the amounts that we need vary by age, and too much salt is a problem for anyone. Pediatricians recommend 1,000 milligrams per day for children 4 to 8 and 1,200 milligrams per day for older children. That may sound like a lot until you start looking at the labels on some of the foods you eat. The NUTRITION FACTS label will tell you how many milligrams of sodium are in a single serving of a product. Just remember to keep track of those servings!
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Confusing Carbohydrates
With all of the media attention given to carbohydrates in the last decade it is no wonder we are confused. When it comes to children between the ages of 5 and 12, approximately one half of their daily food intake should be made up of carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables are some of the best sources of carbohydrates because they are high in fiber and naturally occurring sugars. Additionally, whole wheat breads and pastas are a great choice because they are low in sugar and high in fiber. When reading the NUTRITION FACTS, be wary of foods with large sugar numbers (anything over 10 grams per serving). Generally speaking, large fiber numbers are all good!
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Powerful Protein
Many parents worry that their children are not getting enough protein, particularly if their child does not like meat. Rest easy, because there are plenty of other protein-rich foods available. Generally speaking, one fifth of a child’s food choices should be made up of protein, plenty of which is available in low-fat milk and cheeses, eggs, whole grain foods, peanut butter, beans, oatmeal and nuts. Check out the NUTRITION FACTS and discover other great and tasty foods that provide protein. Poultry and fish are also excellent sources of protein without all of the saturated fats often found in red meats.