Wondering what food your teenagers should be eating to ensure they get the calories, vitamins, and minerals they need to stay healthy?
You’re in the right place.
Teenagers need a healthy diet to help them grow and develop to their full potential.
Creating good eating habits during the teenage years can have long-term rewards, too. Teenagers who have a healthy diet are more likely to maintain that diet for the rest of their lives than those who don’t have a balanced diet during their formative years.
In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the best foods your teenagers should be eating regularly.
Without further ado, let’s jump in.
The Importance of a Balanced Diet for Teenagers
Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for your teenagers to have the energy their bodies need.
Diet is a key factor in adolescent obesity, and by providing the right foods in the right quantities, it’s a condition that can be avoided.
There are even links between a poor diet and poor mental health, so making sure your teenagers are eating well will help both their bodies and their minds.
If your teenagers are on a vegetarian or vegan diet, there’s no need to worry, either. There is a range of ways to get their calories and essential vitamins and nutrients from plant-based foods.
In the next section, I’ll show you some of the best foods that you should consider incorporating into your teenager’s diet.
10 Foods Teenagers Should Eat Everyday
Blueberries are nearly always mentioned in lists like these, but that’s for a good reason!
Blueberries are also a source of anthocyanins, which are associated with a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The best part? They’re delicious. They taste great on their own, as part of a fruit salad, or with pancakes.
If there was a fruit apart from blueberries that’s worth eating every day, it’s bananas.
They provide a range of health benefits and contain antioxidant compounds to help growing bodies fight off stresses.
Bananas can help alleviate ulcers, infections, and even help lower blood pressure.
As you may know, they’re a rich source of potassium too, with one banana providing 9% of a teenager’s Reference Daily Intake (RDI), and 33% of their Vitamin B6 RDI.
You can throw a banana in your teenager’s school bag to eat it with lunch, or as a quick snack during the day to keep their energy levels up.
3. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are highly versatile, so there’s no need to worry about your teenager not liking the taste.
They’re a great alternative to plain fries, as they’re both healthier and arguably tastier than regular potatoes.
You can bake them in the oven, or cut them up and put them in a curry or a chili.
Broccoli is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins, dietary minerals, and phytochemicals, which are all vital in regulating enzymes and controlling apoptosis and cell cycle.
Broccoli is ideal for teenagers who don’t want to eat too many greens, because they don’t need much to reap the health benefits.
Just 100 grams of broccoli contains 149% of your teenager’s daily Vitamin C needs, and 127% of their Vitamin K. They also contain Vitamin E, iron, zinc, and selenium, which are all vital for healthy growth.
Boil broccoli in some stock, or throw them in a stir fry for a tasty, healthy serving of vegetables.
5. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is usually a family favorite, so you shouldn’t have trouble convincing your teen to eat some.
The key is to buy peanut butter that’s 100% nuts, with no added sugars or palm oil. You can also easily make your own. The risk of many store-bought peanut butters is that they contain unnecessary, often unhealthy ingredients.
Just 100 grams of peanut butter contains 50% of your teenager’s protein needs and 45% of their daily Vitamin E. It’s also rich in niacin, folate, which are both essential B Vitamins that our bodies need to function correctly and thrive.
Nut consumption is also associated with reduced risk of cancer, respiratory, liver, and cardiovascular disease.
You may have heard bad things about eggs. They’re subject to myths, but the reality is, they’re a great food source for teenagers.
Eggs contain high-quality protein, essential fatty acids, and minerals needed for energy and protein metabolism.
If your teenager regularly plays sports or is active in any way, eggs are a great way to get their daily intake of essential vitamins and minerals.
One medium egg contains 11% of your daily protein, as well as essential nutrients like:
- Vitamin B5 and B12
- Vitamin D
The list goes on, but I’ll stop there. Eggs are an excellent way for anyone, but in particular, active teenagers, to get the nutrition they need.
Hard-boiled eggs go well in salads or on their own. If you scramble or fry them, make sure to use a healthy oil, like extra virgin olive oil.
Fish is a rich source of protein, healthy fats, and nutrients.
If your teenagers want to eat fish every day, make sure to buy fish that’s low in mercury like salmon, herring, sardines, trout, or Pacific mackerel.
Eating habits that include seafood are linked with reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, and even reduced risk of obesity.
Fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which aid brain function and can decrease the risk of depression and ADHD.
The n-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid, found in fish, is positively associated with increased brain function and cognition.
100 grams of salmon contains 20% of your protein needs, as well as:
- 53% of the RDI for Cobalamin
- 30% of the RDI for Vitamin B-6
Fish goes well with almost anything, so you’ll be able to easily incorporate it into your teenager’s diet.
8. Red Meat
Like eggs, red meat has been associated with a range of myths. However, it’s well established as an important source of:
- Vitamin B12
If your teenagers like red meat, then it’s a great way to make sure they get vitamins and nutrients that will help strengthen their immune system and assist with red blood cell generation.
If your teenager is on a plant-based diet, make sure they include foods that are fortified in B12 or take a supplement to ensure they get enough.
Red meat can be popular with teenagers if you add use it as the base for burgers, or with a side of salad and sweet potato fries.
Over the last few years, quinoa has grown more and more popular. It’s now stocked in most stores, and for good reason.
Quinoa has high nutritional value, making it perfect for growing adolescents.
It’s rich in proteins, lipids, fibers, vitamins, and essential amino acids.
Another benefit of quinoa is that it’s gluten-free, so it can be eaten by celiac patients or anyone with a gluten intolerance.
Quinoa is very easy to cook, too, and the taste isn’t too distinctive, meaning it goes well with almost anything.
Use it as a replacement for rice, or as a base for a salad bowl.
Finally, we have beans.
There are a variety of beans your teenagers can incorporate into their diets, such as kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, and chickpeas (garbanzo beans).
Beans are a great source of fiber, protein, iron, zinc, and magnesium, and are a serving of beans every day is an easy way to increase diet quality.
Beans are ideal for anyone on a plant-based diet because nutrients like iron and zinc are typically found in seafood and meats.
100 grams of beans contains:
- 39% of your daily potassium
- 42% of your daily protein
- 28% of your daily iron
- 25% of your Vitamin B6
They’re versatile, too.
Kidney beans go perfectly in a classic chili, and pinto beans are perfect inside a homemade burrito.
There are lots of ways to incorporate beans into a balanced diet.
It’s important that your teenager has a healthy diet, rich in essential nutrients to help with their growth and development.
These foods can all be eaten regularly, and if your children enjoy them, chances are, eating healthily will come naturally to them for the rest of their life.
Whatever foods you choose to make for your teenagers, make sure they’re getting the necessary calories, vitamins, and minerals that they need to stay healthy during this period of fast growth.