Thursday, 26 August 2010

Four Components Of Parrot Diet. Fresh Foods

Fresh foods is a very broad category.
The most important part of it is fresh vegetables and leafy greens. These should be served daily and make up a large proportion of the parrots' diet (around 20-30%). It is best to buy organic and seasonal fresh produce when possible. You can serve vegetables in all sorts of ways: whole or in chunks on skewers, chopped in large chunks or into small sunflower seed size pieces. You can serve vegetables raw or steamed/boiled.
Steaming is the best way to cook any vegetables as it allows the veg to retain most of its nutrients, whereas they can leak out into the water during boiling.

Try to provide a variety of different vegetables daily and not to overfeed with just one type of a vegetable. Many parrots love peas and corn, but if given the choice they will fill up on these and will ignore or will consume less of any other, often more nutritious vegetable, berry or fruit.
Suggested vegetable list:
  • Beetroot
  • Beet greens
  • Boy choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Carrot Tops
  • Cavolo Nero
  • Celery
  • Celeriac
  • Chard
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media)
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Courgette
  • Cress
  • Cucumber
  • Dandelion greens
  • Endive
  • French Beans
  • Greater Plantain (Plantago major)
  • Kale
  • Lettuce (dark green varieties)
  • Mange Tout
  • Okra
  • Parsnip
  • Pea
  • Pepper (Bell, Jalapeno, Chilli etc.)
  • Pumpkin
  • Rocket
  • Squash (Butternut, Winter and other varieties)
  • Spinach
  • Swede
  • Sweet Corn
  • Sweet Potatoe
  • Tatsoi
  • Tomatoe
  • Turnip
  • Turnip greens
Berries is a very nutritious addition to the diet and a much loved too. Apart from vitamins all sorts of berries contain different antioxidants, phytochemicals and polyphenols. Berries, together with fruit, can make up to 10% of the diet
Suggested berry list:
  • Blackberry
  • Blackcurrant
  • Bilberry
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry
  • Cranberry
  • Elderberry
  • Gooseberry
  • Hawthorn berry
  • Loganberry
  • Mulberry
  • Raspberry
  • Rose-hips
  • Rowan berry
  • Sea-buckthorn
Contrary to popular belief fruit should be served more as a treat rather than a large part of the diet. Fruit are very high in sugar and low in mineral/vitamin content. However they are still an important part and provide a range of beneficial nutrients.

Suggested fruit list:
  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Banana
  • Clementine
  • Coconut
  • Date
  • Damson
  • Fig
  • Grape
  • Greengage
  • Orange
  • Kiwi
  • Lychee
  • Mandarin
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Papaya
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Persimmon
  • Pineapple
  • Plum
  • Pomegranate
  • Tangerine
Herbs can make a nice addition to a parrots diet and most of the herbs have one or another health promoting quality. Use herbs the same you would use them for yourself - to garnish your parrot's meal (sprinkled on cooked food, fresh chopped veggies and mixed with sprouted grains/pulses). All herbs are very rich in essential oils and some of them can have adverse effect if consumed in large quantities. If used sparingly they don't pose any problems.
Suggested herbs list:
  • Basil
  • Calendula
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
Garlic can be given to parrots in small quantities (1/10 of a clove, not bulb!) a couple of times a week without any problems. It can be beneficial for boosting the immune system and it possesses strong anti-bacterial properties too.
Another very important addition to the parrot's diet is grains and legumes. These can be cooked and some types of grains and legumes can be sprouted too. Grains and legumes are a very good source of carbohydrates and proteins. Legumes contain on average 20-25% of protein by weight. To balance out the amino acid profile to achieve complete protein aim to serve 2 parts grains to 1 part legumes in each meal containing these ingredients. Beans are  a good source of dietary fiber, iron, potassium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin B6 and folic acid.
Sprouted seeds and legumes is a very nutritious food, full of live enzymes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytochemicals. Sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, and E,  calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc.
Not all beans can be sprouted. Some beans, like kidney beans and soya beans for example, contain enzyme inhibitors which can cause severe indigestion, vomiting and diarrhoea. However these toxic compounds are destroyed during proper soaking and cooking time at high temperatures (boiling) for a prolong (around 40 minutes) period of time.
Suggested list of grains and legumes for sprouting:
  • Aduki beans
  • Buckwheat
  • Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Chickpeas
  • Corn (dry, pop corn type)
  • Kamut
  • Lentils (any varieties)
  • Millet
  • Oats (whole and not porridge oats)
  • Quinoa
  • Peas (whole, not split)
  • Spelt
  • Triticale
  • Wheat
Additionally, hulled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, alfalfa seeds, flax seeds and sesame seeds can be added to the sprouting mix.
Click here to read more on how to go about sprouting. Don't be afraid to start, it is very easy and even after 24 hour germination process dry grains and legumes turn into a nutritional powerhouse which your parrot will love!
NEVER give your parrot avocado, rhubarb, chocolate or coffee!

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