7 food myths – fact or fiction?

Not sure what food myths are true or not? Our child nutritionist spills the beans

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Fruit makes a great snack for toddlers

1) Seeds provide the same omega-3 as oily fish

Answer: fiction

Oily fish, such as salmon and sardines, contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain and eye development and a healthy heart. Some seeds, like linseed, flaxseed, walnut and rapeseed, also contain omega-3s, but these are short-chain ones, which aren’t proven to have the same health benefits. To get the beneficial long-chain omega-3s, children are advised to eat two portions of fish a week.

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2) Children should stop eating ham

Answer: fiction

Despite reports linking processed meat with cancer, eating ham in moderation is fine. However, the World Cancer Research Fund advises parents not to give it to children too often.

3) Fresh vegetables are better than frozen

Answer: Fiction

Nutrient levels in frozen veg may even be higher than in fresh ones, according to new research from Sheffield Hallam University. This is because most vegetables are frozen within hours of harvesting, preserving the vitamins. In contrast, so-called fresh food could be more than a month old before it reaches the shelves, particularly if it’s imported. So stock up the freezer guilt-free!

4) Avocados are too fatty for children

Answer: Fiction

Avocados contain more fat than other fruit and vegetables, but they’re still a healthy choice for children. The fat they contain is monounsaturated, like olive oil, and it’s healthier than the saturated fat found in meat and cheese. Avocados are also packed with vitamins and minerals. They contain more potassium than bananas and are a good source of vitamins E and B6. As well as giving them to your child in salads, you can mash them with kiwi, banana or mango for weaning. Or spread them on your little one’s toast for a healthy snack.  

5) Children need Superfoods

Answer: Fiction

So-called superfoods contain high levels of vitamins and antioxidants. Fruits such as blueberries, pomegranates and goji berries have all been hailed as must-have superfoods. So is your child missing out if you don’t include them in her diet? While all fruit and veg is important, in fact cheaper, less ‘exotic’ foods, like apples and carrots, are just as good for children.

6) Vitamin C prevents colds

Answer: Fiction

The idea that large amounts of vitamin C can ward off colds and flu is, sadly, a myth, according to a review of studies involving more than 11,000 people. However, vitamin C has been shown to help people get over colds slightly more quickly. And it is more beneficial for children than adults. So make sure your little ones get plenty of high vitamin C foods such as oranges, broccoli and potatoes.    

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7) Toddlers need to eat snacks between meals

Answer: Fact

Toddlers have small stomachs but require lots of energy for growth and constant activity. This means snacks between meals are essential. The mistake here is confusing snacks with treats! Toddlers don’t need lots of biscuits or sweets, which provide calories and little else. They need nutrient-packed snacks to keep them going like fruit. Make sure your tot is drinking plenty of water through the day, too.

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