The Importance of Green Vegetables For Kids Development
  /   Dr. John Snow

The Importance of Green Vegetables For Kids Development

Establishing a love of vegetables in the early years sets the stage for healthy eating habits for years to come. At Hiya, we’re big fans of all vegetables, but green veggies pack a mighty punch of essential nutrients kids need for healthy development and growth. 

Let’s dive into the importance of green vegetables and why parents and caregivers should include more greens in their children’s diets.  

What Makes Green Vegetables Special?

So, what’s all the fuss about green veggies?

We like to think of greens as nature’s superhero snack. Not only are greens tasty and colorful, but they are also bursting with nutrients that offer kids (and adults) a whole host of benefits. Here’s why green vegetables are an absolute must for kids.

Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

It’s surprising how much goodness fits inside vegetables. Green veggies contain a concentrated source of various vitamins and minerals, crucial for children’s development. These can include: 

  • Vitamin A for healthy vision and immune function 
  • Vitamin C for a healthy immune system 
  • Vitamin K for strong bones 
  • Calcium for building strong bones and teeth 
  • Folate for healthy cell growth 
  • Magnesium for muscle and nerve function 
  • Iron for healthy red blood cells, energy levels, and cognitive function 
  • Potassium for healthy muscles and nerves

Low Calorie and Low Sugar

Green vegetables like spinach and broccoli are naturally low in calories and sugar. This makes them a great option for fueling growth while providing lots of nutrients. 

A healthy and balanced eating plan, full of a rainbow of colorful fruits and veggies, can also help support healthy weight in kids. Green vegetables are a good source of nutrients and fiber, meaning your little ones have support sustaining their energy levels throughout the day, keeping them active without sugar crashes that often come with high-sugar and processed foods. 

High in Antioxidants


Green vegetables can also be antioxidant all-stars. They are especially rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C. Antioxidants offer several benefits in the diet: 

  • Protect Cells: Antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, essential for children’s developing bodies as they grow rapidly. 
  • Fight Inflammation: Antioxidants like vitamin C and flavonoids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, contributing to healthy growth and development in kids. 
  • Healthy Vision: The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are especially important for healthy vision and may help protect against age-related macular degeneration
  • Reduce Risk of Disease: Some studies suggest that a diet high in antioxidants, like the ones found in green veggies, helps reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and diabetes later in life.

Full of Fiber

Fiber is essential to a healthy diet. Here’s why:

  • Gut Health: Fiber keeps food moving through the digestive system smoothly, prevents constipation, and keeps you regular. 
  • Feeling Full: Fiber helps kids feel full for longer and keeps the digestive tract happy and healthy. 
  • Nourishing the Good Bacteria: Fiber acts as a prebiotic, so it feeds your gut’s good bacteria, contributing to gut health, proper immune function, and overall health. 

Green vegetables are a fantastic source of fiber for kids. Some of our favorite dark leafy greens are: 

  • Kale 
  • Collard greens 
  • Swiss chard 
  • Spinach
  • Arugula 

Immune System Support

We can’t stress enough the importance of green leafy vegetables (alongside all veggies) in helping to support immune systems. Green veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy immune system, like vitamins A, C, and E, and folate. Vitamin C is often a go-to for its immune-boosting reputation, but vitamins A and E can also play a vital role in healthy immune function. 

Why Are Green Vegetables Important For Kids’ Development?

The benefits of vegetables extend to so many aspects of our childrens' health. While you may remember your own parents telling you to finish your greens, we now know why it’s so important to introduce our kids to delicious and healthy green vegetables from a young age. Understanding the importance of green vegetables is the first step in raising healthy and happy kids.

Digestive Health

Green veggies contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water and turns into a sort of gel during digestion. This process helps to slow down digestion. Insoluble fiber adds bulk and promotes regular bowel movements. A regular and healthy digestive tract helps to prevent tummy troubles and contributes to overall well-being in kids. 

Try to get creative when encouraging more greens in your kid’s diet, like blending chopped leafy greens into a smoothie or baking muffins with hidden pureed greens like spinach. If your kids need additional digestive support, you can also consider adding a quality probiotic made specifically for kids.

Gut Health

Whole fruits and veggies contain dietary fiber like pectin, inulin, and lignin. These fibers act as prebiotics, which are food sources for the good bacteria in the gut. A healthy gut promotes nutrient absorption, helping kids to grow and develop optimally. Like the kind you find in greens, dietary fiber promotes a healthy gut microbiome, which supports a healthy immune system and more.


If your child tends to resist healthy food choices, don’t give up! The benefits of eating vegetables are vast, from gut health to supporting optimal energy levels.

Without a balanced diet, some children may experience nutrient deficiencies, which can contribute to tiredness. By encouraging a well-balanced diet full of essential vitamins and minerals, you can support healthy energy levels and overall health. Green veggies are also an excellent snack for kids instead of high-sugar and processed candies. 

Fun ways to incorporate more green vegetables into your kid’s diet could include: 

  • Celery sticks with a yummy dip 
  • Sugar snap peas and hummus 
  • Veggie fritters with grated greens like broccoli or zucchini 

Bone Health

Several studies show a link between higher vegetable intake and better bone health. Vegetables are also packed with bone-supporting nutrients like vitamins C and K and some calcium. Vitamin C helps in collagen production, important for bones. Vitamin K plays a role in bone mineralization and is a co-factor of one of bone's main proteins, osteocalcin. Osteocalcin needs vitamin K to switch on its calcium-grabbing ability, setting the foundation for strong bones. 

Cognitive Health

Green veggies are full of brain-boosting nutrients, supporting cognitive health and development. 

    • Vitamin K: Helps brain cells communicate more effectively. 
  • Lutein: Helps protect brain cells as we get older. 
  • Folate: Supports healthy brain development during pregnancy.
    • Antioxidants: Help fight off free radicals that can damage brain cells, keeping them healthy. 

    Serving your kid plenty of greens is a great way to include lots of nutrients and support healthy brain development and function. Interestingly, one study found that children whose mothers took higher amounts of folic acid (folate supplement) throughout pregnancy performed better on memory tests.

    Overall Health

    Green veggies are a fantastic source of essential nutrients that support overall health. Some research even suggests that children who eat more fruit and vegetables have better mental well-being. While research in this area continues, it’s clear that green vegetables boast a number of nutrients that contribute to a happy and healthy child. 

    Try adding some of the best vegetables for growing kids into your weekly meals: 

    • Broccoli 
    • Green beans 
    • Peas
    • Spinach 
    • Brussel sprouts 
    • Kale 

    Green Vegetables Are Worth the Hassle For Healthy Child Development

    We know dinnertimes can be frustrating and feel like a battle at times, trying to negotiate with your kids on what they will or won’t eat. But those greens are worth the hassle and effort.

    There are ways to make veggies fun and delicious. Get creative with the dips, involve the kids in meal prep, and cut vegetables into fun shapes. Stay positive and continue to emphasize the benefits of green vegetables to your little one. Developing healthy eating habits takes time, but it’s worth the journey as you raise an independent thinker who can make their own healthy food choices. 


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