Three-year-old Olivia Thompson and five-year-old Angus Weekes students from the Lismore Preschool love vegetables grown in the preschool garden.
Three-year-old Olivia Thompson and five-year-old Angus Weekes students from the Lismore Preschool love vegetables grown in the preschool garden. Cathy Adams

Vegies super food for kids

A VEGIE a day will also keep the doctor away, new research from Melbourne's Murdoch Childrens Research Institute shows.

The new research found just one daily serving of vegetables could significantly reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome in adulthood.

Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions that often occur together and can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

MCRI Researcher, Dr Matt Sabin, said every effort to support and promote a healthy lifestyle in childhood was needed to stop the increasing prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

"This study showed that children should be encouraged to eat vegetables every day, or almost every day, to get their protective effect against the metabolic syndrome in adulthood," Dr Sabin said.

"We also found no specific age that this effect related to, meaning childhood vegetable consumption is probably really important at all ages."

Dr Sabin said previous research found food choices were established early in childhood, and those behaviours may lead into adulthood.

"It is important to focus on dietary education in childhood if we are to prevent adverse outcomes, like the metabolic syndrome," he said.

Lismore Preschool director Alexis Hughes said by teaching kids about healthy eating in their early years, children were being set up as healthy eaters for life.

Ms Hughes said her preschool used its "munch and move" program and grew its own fruit and vegetables to encourage and teach children about the benefits of healthy eating.

"Growing their own food gives them an awareness about healthy food," Ms Hughes said.

"We encourage our kids to try new foods and to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables."

Ms Hughes said the secret to getting the kids to eat fresh vegetables was keeping it simple rather than over complicating food.



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