The Surprising Benefits of Green Vegetables For Kids
  /   Dr. John Snow

The Surprising Benefits of Green Vegetables For Kids

As a parent, it's essential to understand the importance of incorporating green vegetables into your child's diet, even if they put up some resistance. While it may be challenging at times, persevering in offering a variety of green veggies can be crucial for their overall health and development.

Green vegetables are nutrient powerhouses, packed with vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds that support your child's growth, immune function, and overall well-being. By regularly including these nutritional superstars in your little one's meals, you're setting them up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits.

We'll explore the specific benefits of green vegetables and highlight some of our favorite options to incorporate into your child's diet. With a bit of creativity and persistence, you can help your child develop a taste for these nutritious and delicious foods.


Meet The Green Vegetable Heros

Children should generally get between ⅔ to 3 cups of vegetables every day, depending on their age. A cup could be two medium carrots, one big bell pepper, or a cup of broccoli florets. Hitting your child’s vegetable goals, especially with a focus on dark green options, helps them to get a variety of nutrients. 

Green vegetables get their vibrant color from chlorophyll, but it’s the dark leafy greens that take the nutritional crown. While we love all green veggies, these superstars are jam-packed with nutrients, making them stand out even more. 


Broccoli is a fantastic all-rounder, providing vitamins A, C, and K. Vitamin C is especially beneficial for supporting the immune system, and vitamin K is important for bone health. Broccoli also contains calcium, potassium, iron, and antioxidants. One cup of broccoli contains a whopping 81mg of vitamin C, more than the recommended amount of daily vitamin C for most people. 


You can’t talk about the benefits of eating green leafy vegetables without spinach. The dark leafy green champion packs a powerful punch of nutrients essential for children’s healthy growth and development. 

Spinach is rich in calcium and vitamin K, which help build and maintain strong bones, as well as important minerals like potassium and magnesium. It also contains folate and vitamins A and C. Like other green veggies, spinach is an excellent source of fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive system and helps to keep tummies happy and healthy. 


It might not be every kids favorite, but kale is chock-full of essential nutrients:

  • Calcium and vitamin K for strong bones, muscles, and teeth 
  • Folate, which is crucial for brain development 
  • Vitamins A and C to support a robust immune system 
  • Fiber to promote a healthy digestive system 

Brussels Sprouts 

They’re not like they used to be. Brussels sprouts taste better than ever, and contain nutrients like vitamins C and K, calcium, folate, and fiber. They are also particularly high in glucosinates, a group of sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage and cauliflower). Promising research suggests that a diet high in glucosinolates may help reduce inflammation and reduce the incidence of chronic disease. 

While kids may not always be the biggest fans, Brussels sprouts are tiny nutritional powerhouses. Between the slightly bitter taste, texture, and appearance, it may take a little more sneakiness to get them into your little one’s diet. Try blending them into smoothies, roasting them with their other favorite foods, blending them into pasta sauce, or serving them with a yummy dip. 

Swiss Chard 

Swiss chard is a multi-dimensional nutritional wonder with vibrant leafy green and red, white, or yellow stems. Here’s why the green veg deserves a place in your child’s diet:

  • Excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health 
  • Offers a good dose of fiber, helping to feel full for longer 
  • Contains antioxidants, helping protect cells from damage 
  • Rich in vitamins A, C, and K and folate 

7 Surprising Benefits of Green Vegetables For Kids

So, what are green vegetables good for?

Green vegetables are full of nutrients for growing bodies and minds, and the darker greens often lead the pack. But what exactly are the benefits of greens for toddlers and kids? 

1. Green Veggies are Deficiency Wardens

Green vegetables help fight against nutrient and vitamin deficiency in kids as they are full of nutrients that children need to thrive. Green veggies contain crucial nutrients like: 

  • Vitamins A and C: These vitamins are important for a healthy immune system and vision. 
  • Folate: The B vitamin is essential for brain development. 
  • Calcium and Iron: These minerals are the building blocks for strong and healthy bones. 
  • Fiber: This is essential for keeping a child's digestive system healthy. 

By encouraging a variety of green vegetables into your little one’s diet, you can help to prevent deficiency in essential nutrients such as: 

Making green vegetables a part of your child’s regular diet can help them get an array of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. 

2. Green Vegetables are Digestion Superheros

Like other green vegetables, one of the major health benefits of leafy greens is that they are full of fiber. Green vegetables can help keep things running smoothly. Eating a diet with plenty of fiber helps in a few ways

  • Bowel Movements: Fiber adds bulk to the stool and promotes regular bowel movements
  • Healthy Gut: Fiber serves as a prebiotic to feed the friendly bacteria in your child’s gut, helping with digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Promotes Fullness: Fiber helps keep your little one fuller for longer, reducing the urge to snack between meals.

In addition to providing fiber, green veggies are typically low in fat and also contain water, which helps with overall hydration while being gentle on the tummy. Staying hydrated is another essential part of a healthy digestive system as it helps to keep the stool soft and easier to pass. 

3. Geen Veggies are Bone Density Strengtheners

Green vegetables are full of nutrients that play an essential role in bone development and density in children:

  • Calcium: Crucial for building and maintaining healthy bones. Greens like kale, broccoli, and spinach are great sources of calcium. 
  • Vitamin K: This vitamin helps with calcium absorption
  • Vitamin C: This is important for maintaining bone health as it’s essential in producing collagen, and supporting bones. 
  • Magnesium: Magnesium helps regulate calcium and vitamin D, both crucial for healthy bones.

A balanced diet with green vegetables can help provide nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that support healthy bone development. 

4. Green Vegetables are Obesity Defenders

The benefits of green leafy vegetables may also extend to helping to maintain a healthy body weight. Green vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and high in fiber, keeping kids fuller for longer and helping to reduce unhealthy snacking.

Research suggests that children with a decent vegetable intake may have a lower risk of obesity. On the flip side, engaging in unhealthy eating behaviors in childhood may set kids on the path to adverse health outcomes, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. 

5. Green Veggies are Eyesight Guardians

Green vegetables contain carotenoids that are especially beneficial for eye health. Leafy greens are brimming with lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help delay age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in adults. 

Many green veggies also contain vitamins A and C, nutrients crucial for eye health. While rare in developed countries, globally, vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness, affecting up to 30% of children under five years old. Green vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, supporting vision and eye health. 

6. Memory Boosters

Green vegetables may also benefit memory, as these types of veggies are full of nutrients that play a crucial role in brain health in kids. 

Leafy green vegetables contain nutrients essential for healthy brain function and development, including vitamin K, and B vitamins, especially folate. 

One study found that approximately one serving of green leafy vegetables per day and foods rich in phylloquinone (the main form of vitamin K), lutein, nitrate, and folate may help to slow cognitive decline with aging.

The brain rapidly develops and grows throughout childhood, and good nutrition helps form the building blocks for this process. Researchers found an association between kids who followed a diet focusing on whole grains, soft fats, and dairy and larger total brain and cerebral gray matter. This was in comparison to kids who ate more processed foods, snacks, and sugar. 

7. Green Veggies as Heart Protectors

Green vegetables are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals that contribute to a strong and healthy heart in children (and adults), like vitamin K, fiber, and potassium. These all work together to lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure, supporting a healthier heart. 

The American Heart Association (AHA) highlights diet as one of “Life’s Essential 8” to help promote heart health and avoid disease. Alongside exercise and healthy sleep, a diet focusing on whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds can support a healthy heart. 

Make Room For Green Vegetables In Your Kids’ Diet

A healthy diet full of green vegetables and a variety of nutrients is beneficial for the whole family. But we also know that kids can be masters at avoiding veggies, especially the green kind. With some patience, you can get your little one on board and reap the benefits of health-boosting greens.

Kids' taste buds are more sensitive than adults, which can make sweet flavors extra appealing. Often, the bitterness that comes with green veggies can be offputting, but introducing veggies early and often is a great way to get started. While many children may not run to a plate of green veggies, they might love a kale and fruit smoothie or a veggie-packed pasta sauce. Alternatively, greens powder can be a quick and convenient way to sneak in all the goodness of greens without the fuss.  


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