How to Raise a Healthy Eater (in a Junk-Food World)

Scary fact: French fries are one of kids' favorite vegetables. Even scarier: Research has found that up to a third of young children eat virtually no vegetables at all. Desperate to get healthier food on your child's plate? We teamed up with the experts -- nutritionists from the American Dietetic Association -- to give you the best advice on getting your kids to eat right.

5 Reasons Vegetables Really Matter

1. They help kids grow. Vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals -- such as vitamins A, C, E, and potassium -- that build tissue and promote cell growth.

2. They fight disease. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can protect against type 2 diabetes, which is increasingly common in children. By learning to love veggies now, kids will build a lifelong habit that can help lower their risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers later in life.

3. They help hydrate. Kids don't have to get all their water from a cup -- many vegetables, including lettuce and carrots, contain plenty of it. In fact, broccoli is more than 90 percent water.

4. They help prevent obesity. "There's no doubt about it: Kids who eat more fruits and vegetables have lower body weights," says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). That's because a diet rich in produce is naturally lower in calories and fat and higher in nutrients -- and veggies fill you up and leave less room for junk.

5. They're packed with fiber. Fiber makes kids feel full and prevents constipation. Eating a high-fiber diet also means your child is less likely to develop heart disease and high cholesterol later in life. And most kids get only about half as much fiber as they need. Baked potatoes (with the skin) and brussels sprouts are two of the best veggie sources.

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