School children love to snack through the day. They might eat three to five snacks a day in addition to three meals.
Children are constantly on the go – netball, soccer, swimming and riding their bikes.
To keep their energy stores topped up they will need carbohydrates at each meal. And here’s where the banana comes into it!
The banana is nature’s energy snack. They are an excellent source of carbohydrate in the form of natural sugars and starch which provide sustained energy for keeping children’s bodies active.
The banana compliments breakfast too. Why?
Breakfast is a particularly important meal for children as it stimulates the brain to think efficiently (Hoyland 2009; Cooper 2012; O’Dea 2012).
Breakfast eaters are better at problem solving, doing maths and remembering what has been taught in the classroom.
A breakfast of cereal, milk and a sliced banana is an excellent start.
Even if your child is running late one morning make sure they have something to eat in the car or on the bus.
You guessed it – the banana is the ideal on-the-go snack.
Young children will prefer smaller “lunch box bananas” to the larger banana; or just cut up a large banana into two – half for now and a half for later in the day. Cover in plastic wrap.
Bananas are nutrient-rich, another good reason they are important for school kids.
Vitamin B6 is required to make haemoglobin in red blood cells, release glucose energy from muscles, and carry nerve impulses (Mann & Truswell p224).
Bananas are a great source of B6.
A banana will provide 20% of their B6 needs for the day (NUTTAB 2010).
Vitamin C is required for forming blood vessels, skin, gums and even bones. It also assists the absorption of iron from food.
One banana per day will provide 10 per cent of the daily needs of vitamin C, and the minerals magnesium, needed for making protein and healthy bones, and potassium, needed for a healthy blood pressure (NUTTAB 2010; Mann & Truswell p 134, 153).
Folate is critical for producing new cells in the body, for example, it helps make new DNA for rapidly growing cells (Mann & Truswell p228).
One medium banana will provide 15% of a child’s folate needs for the day (Industry figures 2010).
Of course, the banana also provides over 10 per cent of daily fibre needs, so a banana a day will help to keep them regular and healthy on the inside (NUTTAB 2010).
Encourage kids to eat fruit as a snack everyday.
Keep the fruit bowl visible and topped up. Foods that are easy to find will always be the food of choice.
(For the same reason, it is smart to keep the cookie jar (biscuit tin) out of sight).
Cooper SB, Bandelow S, Nute ML, Morris JG, Nevill ME. Breakfast glycaemic index and cognitive function in adolescent school children.
British Journal of Nutrition 2012; 107 (12): 1823-1832 Mann J & Truswell AS (2012).
Essentials of Human Nutrition 4th edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford NUTTAB 2010 Online Searchable Database.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/science/monitoringnutrients/nutrientables/nuttab/Pages/default.aspx
Hoyland A, Dye L, Lawton CL. A systematic review of the effect of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents.
Nutrition Research reviews 2009; 22: 220-243 O’Dea JA, Mugridge AC. Nutritional quality of breakfast and physical activity independently predict the literacy and numeracy scores of children after adjusting for socioeconomic status. Health Education Research 2012; 27 (6): 975-985