Are legumes good for children? At what age can they start eating them? Here’s what to know about the relationship between babies and legumes during weaning. Tasty, nutritious and very rich in properties, legumes are sweet foods for the health of the organism of young and old. Rich in fiber, vegetable proteins, mineral salts and vitamins, they are a real concentrate of well-being, able to produce benefits even for the little ones.
Therefore, this food category must be included in the diet regularly from an early age. But when is it correct to start eating them? The relationship between legumes and children has always been very controversial, and, often, there is strong distrust in their consumption even by parents. Although they are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods ever, not everyone appreciates them.
Many adults tend to avoid them in their diet because they require long cooking times and can be difficult to digest, while children seem to dislike their smell and taste. It is good to know, then, that there are ‘tricks’ that allow you to make legumes more digestible and delicious, even for the little ones. So let’s see which ones to include in the children’s diet and in what quantities, evaluating the right time to start eating them.
Legumes: Because They Are Also Good For Children
Legumes are nothing more than the edible seeds of some plants belonging to the legume species. The most common and easily available all year round are beans, peas, broad beans, chickpeas, lentils and lupins. They are a source of complex carbohydrates, fiber and vegetable proteins. Therefore they represent one of the complete foods available in nature. Consumed regularly in a balanced diet containing vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, they guarantee a high nutritional intake.
They offer protection against cardiovascular diseases, tumors and digestive system disorders.
Regular consumption of legumes by children causes them to ingest less saturated fats and animal proteins, which helps keep caloric intake under control and limit the development of childhood obesity. Likewise, considering that they are among the foods with a low glycemic index, they are useful in preventing childhood diabetes.
Eating legumes is the best way to fill up on minerals (especially iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium ) and vitamins, especially group B. However, it is good to know that they also contain phytates, antinutrients that limit the absorption of nutrients from part of the organism. To inactivate them, it will be sufficient to soak the dried legumes for at least 12 hours.
Legumes For Children: Which Are The Best And At What Age To Start Eating Them
Legumes are all quite similar on a nutritional level, so there are no better or worse ones for feeding a child. What we must pay attention to is their conservation. If possible, it is always better to prefer the consumption of fresh legumes for the little ones, even better if they are of local and organic origin. Alternatively, you can soak dry ones overnight before consuming them. Instead, it would be better to avoid canned legumes for children because they often contain salt or preservatives.
If you really can’t do without them, it is advisable to rinse them thoroughly with running water before eating them. It is possible to start serving legumes to babies from weaning when they transition from breast milk to other foods. If weaning occurs before the sixth month, it is advisable to wait until the baby is at least six months old before proposing the legumes, which must be deprived of the peel, smoothies and liquid consistency, therefore in the form of velvety or soups.
Later, to get them used to the different textures of food, it is possible to propose legumes to children in other forms, creating more delicious recipes such as meatballs and vegetable burgers. At least until the baby is 24 months old, removing the legumes’ peel or buying the peeled ones directly is essential. Before the age of two, the digestive system of children (starting from the teeth) may have difficulty processing this part of the food, taking into account that it is the hardest and most fiber-rich part, therefore the most difficult to chew and digest.
Speaking of digestibility, lentils seem to be the most suitable for introducing legumes into the diet of infants during weaning. On the other hand, beans are heavier for a baby’s stomach, so it is advisable to wait until the baby is at least 10 months old before feeding them.
Quantity And Portions During Weaning
In a phase in which children can suffer from constipation, inserting legumes 2-3 times a week in the diet is a good solution to ensure intestinal regularity for the little ones. We must not exceed the quantities, and it is advisable to accustom the body of newborns to the consumption of legumes gradually. The portions must therefore be relatively small: 10-20 grams of dried legumes (or 40-50 grams of fresh legumes) with 25 grams of pasta is ideal for a complete and nutritious meal.
Although they are an excellent food for the development of the little ones, they should be remembered once digested. They can produce intestinal gas and cause annoying colic. For this reason, it is advisable to consult your pediatrician and a nutrition professional before introducing legumes into the diet of babies.
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