Have you heard of the unicorn food fad? With unicorns on trend at the moment, Dr Barnard from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explains that the unicorn food fad is all about eating beautiful, bright foods in every colour of the rainbow. “Unicorns may be mythical, but the health benefits of the nutrition rainbow aren’t,” he says.
Catherine Barnhoorn, certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and author of Mila’s Meals: The Beginning & Basics agrees. She talks about the importance of rainbow nutrition for your toddler’s diet. “Pytonutrients are natural chemical compounds found in all plants. They protect against diseases and promote health. The phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables give them their different colours with each colour group providing a unique set of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Using the rainbow as a guide is a great way to ensure your little one is eating the widest range of phytonutrients.”
Here are 15 superfoods that any unicorn fan would be happy to eat:
- Eggs are rich in protein and are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium, explains registered dietician Rachel Beller, founder of the Beller Nutritional Institute, mother of four and founder of bellernutrition.com. “Eating protein at breakfast also helps kids feel satisfied for longer.”
- Fibre-rich whole grains like oatmeal digest slowly and provide children with a steady stream of energy.
- Nuts are full of healthy fats, which are needed for growth and development and heart health adds Beller.
- Milk and dairy products offer protein and calcium that help provide fuel for the brain and body. Protein also helps build brain tissue, while calcium helps keep bones and teeth strong.
- Salmon contains heart-healthy omega-3 fats that boost brain development, helps fend of depression and has great anti-inflammatory powers, adds Beller.
- Carrots are rich in beta-carotene that is not only a powerful antioxidant, but helps support the immune system as well.
- Tomatoes are full of lycopene that protects against many cancers and heart disease. Cooking tomatoes helps release the lycopene.
- Blueberries are rich in antioxidants. “Research suggests that in addition to protecting against heart disease and diabetes and improving brain function, blueberries may also help reduce visceral ‘toxic’ belly fat – a type of fat that has been linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome,” says Beller.
- Cabbage has a mild flavour and crunch that children tend to like over usual salad greens. It contains phytonutrients that lower the risk of cancer, as well as improve digestion. Beller adds that cabbage also helps clear harmful toxins from the body by triggering the release of enzymes whose job is to whisk them out.
- Basil is full of antioxidants, vitamins A, C and K, iron, potassium and calcium. Beller shares that some research shows it may even help ease headaches.
- Coriander, adds Barnhoorn, has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial benefits and cholesterol-lowering effects. “It is a remarkable heavy-metal detoxifier and is able to remove mercury and aluminum from where it is stored in the body’s tissues.”. Coriander seeds are a good source of dietary fibre, copper, manganese, iron, magnesium and calcium, while the leaves are a great source of vitamins A, K, C, as well as iron, calcium and magnesium.
- Pumpkin seeds have antioxidant, antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial benefits. “They contain the amino acid tryptophan – a nutrient which relaxes the body, calms the nerves and improves sleep,” shares Barnhoorn.
- Black Beans are a good source of protein, fibre and calcium. “The darker the colour, the better they are,” says Beller. “They also help guard against heart disease and high cholesterol, which aren’t adults-only problems.”
- Cocoa powder has one of the highest concentrations of flavonoids, a compound known to improve blood pressure, heart and oral health, adds Beller. “Use at least 70% pure cocoa and check that it isn’t processed with alkali (also called Dutch processed), which removes most of the flavonoids.”
- Cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar. “This may also minimise those all-too-common mid-morning energy crashes (Kiddie meltdown),” Beller shares.