Fruits and Vegetables

Poor Diet & Aggressive Behavior in Children

Early Childhood

A 2004 study at the University of Southern California (USC) found a strong link between infant and toddler malnutrition and antisocial behavior in childhood through adolescents. In other words, a very poor diet during the first few years of life causes aggression later, in children and teens. This study followed children who, at the age of three, had physical symptoms of either protein deficiency, vitamin B deficiency, anemia or zinc and iron deficiency.

Intelligence

The above-referenced study at USC uncovered a link between lack of good nutrition in the first three years and lower IQ. Adrian Raine, a co-author of the study, points out that zinc, iron, protein and vitamin B are all necessary for brain development. While lower IQ does not intrinsically cause aggressive behavior, poor nutrition early in life causes brain deficiencies that result in both lower IQ and aggressive behavior. The three are strongly correlated.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) does not intrinsically cause aggression, but the behaviors of ADHD children often create a dynamic of frustration between child and caregiver or teacher. The mutual frustration may elicit aggression in the child. At the University of Maryland Medical Center, experts discuss diet as a treatment for ADHD. Some parents have found eliminating sugars, artificial sweeteners and artificial colors from children's diets helpful. Feeding the child a diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates may eliminate some of the ADHD behaviors.

Prevent Aggressive Behavior With Fruits and Vegetables

The Harvard School of Public Health has conducted various studies about children's diets and what factors go into children eating more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are good ways to get the vitamins and minerals that help prevent aggressive behavior into your child's diet. They found that two simple things encourage healthier eating in childhood: stocking the refrigerator at home with healthy snacks, such as fruits and vegetables, and eating dinner together as a family. During family dinner, parents serve, eat, and expect children to eat produce.

How to Puree Fruits and Vegetables

Always wash hands before handling food so germs aren't transferred.
Always wash hands before handling food so germs aren't transferred.

Wash your hands with soap and water prior to handling fresh vegetables and fruits used for pureeing. Dry with a clean towel.

Wash the fruits and vegetables with a vegetable scrubber and warm water. Dry with a clean towel.

Vegetable peelers easily remove the skin from vegetables and fruits.
Vegetable peelers easily remove the skin from vegetables and fruits.

Cut the ends off the vegetables and fruits, and peel the skins off with a vegetable peeler. Remove seeds and cores with the knife, then chop the fruits and vegetables into small 1/2-inch cubes. The skins and seeds will not puree and can be a choking hazard, especially for babies.

Place the fruit and vegetable cubes into a pot, and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot. Too much water in the pot removes important vitamins and nutrients. Cover the pot with a lid, and cook the fruits and vegetables until they are tender when you poke them with a fork.

Use a colander to drain the water from your cooked vegetables.
Use a colander to drain the water from your cooked vegetables.

Remove the pot from the stove top, and place on a hot pad. Pour the vegetables through a colander to remove the liquid, then leave them to sit in the colander for a few minutes to cool.

Pour the cooked fruits or vegetables into a blender and puree. Rub a bit of the pureed food between two fingers to make sure it has a thin consistency. If the consistency is too thick, add 1 tsp. water and puree again, repeating until the desired consistency is achieved.

Store pureed fruits and vegetables for a few days in the refrigerator, or keep them in the freezer for up to six months. Use plastic containers for the refrigerator and freezer bags for the freezer.

Things You Will Need

  • Soap
  • Clean towels
  • Scrubber
  • Knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Pot with lid
  • Fork
  • Hot pad
  • Colander
  • Blender
  • Plastic containers
  • Freezer bags

Tip

Freeze pureed food in ice cube trays for baby-sized portions. Use muffin tins for adult-sized portions.

Reheat frozen pureed foods in a sauce pan with a small amount of water.

Warning

Pureed fruits and vegetables can spoil, just like uncooked or fresh produce.

Fruit & Vegetable Facts for Kids

Origins and History

A focus on where fruits and vegetables come from and how they are part of history is one place to start with interesting facts. Explain to children that the white potato was first cultivated in the Andes Mountains in South America by the Aymara Indians. Describe how the kiwi fruit got its name from New Zealand's national bird, the Kiwi, because the fruit's brown fuzzy skin resembles the animal. Also point out that people have discovered more than 7,000 various types of apples throughout the world.

Growth

How a fruit or vegetable grows can highlight some interesting facts for kids. Let children know that strawberries are the only fruit to have its seeds grow on the outside of its skin, rather than on the inside. Tell them that banana plants have been known to grow more than an inch overnight and that a cucumber is actually a fruit, not a vegetable, because its seeds grow in its centre. Explain how the durian fruit of Southeast Asia lets you know it is ripe by giving off a strong stinky and unpleasant smell.

Benefits

One reason to share facts about fruits and vegetables with youngsters is to encourage them to eat more of them. There are many facts about the foods' nutritional benefits, including that a fresh-picked apple is healthier than apple sauce, because fruits and vegetables are more nutritious when they're fresh. Let children know that eating oranges and other fruits with a lot of vitamin C will help their cuts heal faster. Tell youngsters how potatoes are more nutritious when prepared with their skin on, because that's where the vegetable keeps most of its vitamins. Share with them that eating garlic can help prevent the flu.

Other Facts

There are many miscellaneous facts in the world of fruits and vegetables. Tell children that pineapples are a berry, just like blueberries or strawberries. Point out that pumpkins are a fruit and that they get their name from a Greek work meaning "large melon. " Explain that people in the United States eat more tomatoes than any other fruit or vegetable, and that in France, tomatoes are often referred to as the "apple of love."