Dried fruit and dehydrated fruit to children

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Catherine Le Nevez
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The importance of dried fruit

Walnuts, almonds, peanuts ... la dried fruit it is often the protagonist of the Christmas tables but in reality it would be worth re-evaluating it as a fundamental food group in daily nutrition, even for children. Let's find out why and how to introduce it in children's diets.





Dried fruit: what we are talking about and why it is good for you

"The 'dried fruit group' contains what it really is oil nuts - therefore walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews and peanuts - plus i oilseeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, chia and hemp seeds "explains the doctor Luciana Baroni, nutrition expert and president of the Scientific Society of Vegetarian Nutrition.

"In general - underlines Baroni - dried fruit provides important nutrients, including minerals such as zinc, magnesium and selenium Vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega-3 and omega-6 family"Obviously, each of the foods listed above has its own peculiar composition so that the widest possible spectrum of nutrients is obtained by varying consumption.

From what age can dried fruit be given to children

"Dried fruit can be introduced, in an adequate form, starting from weaning", says Baroni. We recall that according to the World Health Organization, weaning should begin at six months and in any case - according to the indications of the European Society of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Pediatric Nutrition and the European Food Safety Agency - no earlier than four months.

Read also: Weaning, the 15 things to know

How to avoid the risk of choking in young children?

"To prevent suffocation, dried fruit must be offered in a form that is compatible with the development of the child, so it can be offered whole only when the ability to chew and swallow is complete" declares Baroni. "First, it must be prepared to make it safe for the small child to consume, that is, it must be mixed with baby food in the form finely ground or creamy. A small electric coffee grinder is sufficient for the grinding, while as creams you can use that of sesame (tahini), walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, being careful to choose them unsweetened ".



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Which dried fruit to propose to children

"There are no fruits or seeds better than others: as anticipated, the ideal is to offer a wide range of dried fruit in a varied way. The only attention must be paid to salt and heat: it is better to avoid salty products and roasted, as are peanuts ".

How to limit the risk of allergies

Contrary to what was believed in the past, today we know that the risk of allergies is limited by offering these foods to your child. starting from weaning. "There is no evidence that delaying the introduction of potentially allergenic foods beyond the 6th month has a protective effect on the development of allergies, and this also applies to dried fruit, especially peanuts," concludes the expert.

Read also: Nutrition in the first months and risk of eczema, asthma and food allergies: the recommendations of American pediatricians

How much per day?

"Given that a portion of dried fruit are 30 g (shelled), for the range from 1 to 3 years, approximately 1-1,5 portions per day can be proposed, for the range 5-6 years 1-2 portions, for the range 7-10 years 1,5-3 portions , for the 11-14 age group 2-3 portions and for the 15-17 year age group 3-4 portions. "Obviously, when used as a snack, dried fruit must complement or replace other snacks, not to be added.

How to consume it

"Dried fruit can be consumed in various ways: natural is a practical snack which you can take anywhere with you, while it can be consumed in the form of spreadable creams on bread for breakfast or snack or at the table chopped or ground on all types of dishes, especially first courses or single dishes. It is also the ingredient of many sweet and savory dishes "explains Baroni.

In this sense, it can be used in any meal. "In cream it can be used as an additional ingredient in legume or tofu pate. Chopped it can be used in muesli or as an ingredient in homemade cakes. Ground seeds and dried fruit are an excellent salad dressing."

Dried fruit and vegetarian food

"Dried fruit is important in all types of diets, but it certainly represents, together with oilseeds, one of the fundamental food groups of plant-based diets" explains Baroni, who is among the authors of updated indications for this type of diet. power supply (VegPlate). "By the way, I remember that different blends of seeds and nuts are very tasty substitutes for parmesan or parmesan, for pasta, risotto or grains. For example, peeled almonds, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds finely chopped, with a pinch of salt ".

Read also: Vegan diet for children: can it be done, and under what conditions?

Dehydrated fruit

Sometimes they are confused, but oil nuts (dried fruit) and dried fruit (figs, apricots, dates) are completely different foods. "As we have seen, oil nuts have a high content of fatty acids, while dehydrated fruit (like the fresh one) has a very low fat content and high sugar content".

Dehydrated fruit can also find a place in children's nutrition, as an alternative to fresh fruit, obviously with an adjustment of the portions (a portion of fresh fruit is 150 g, while that of dehydrated fruit is 30 g). "Peaches and dried apricots are particularly rich in iron, of which dates are also a good source, while dried figs are rich in calcium", says Baroni. "Also the dehydrated fruit can be used as source of fruit sugars for the preparation of sweet dishes, instead of sugar ".

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