Top 4 Superfoods Teens Should Eat

Make sure your teen eats plenty of fruit.
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Out of all age groups, a teenager’s growing body requires the most energy. And that energy comes from calories.

Teenage boys require 2,200 to 3,200 daily calories per day on average, while teen girls require 1,800 to 2,400 daily calories. Although your teenager may have no trouble coming up with ways to consume all the energy she needs, the quality of food matters.

Many snack foods and drinks have little or no nutritional value, resulting in empty calories that provide energy but little else.

Teens require iron and calcium in particular – these two nutrients help ensure strong bones.

Calcium also helps maintain muscles and a healthy heartbeat. Iron helps deliver oxygen through the blood to every part of the body, providing much-needed energy.

Swap out unhealthy, nutritionally void snacks and foods for these superfoods that will supercharge your teen's eating habits. 

1. Cashews and Walnuts

Nuts provide plenty of snack-worthy crunch while offering high amounts of protein and valuable minerals. One ounce of cashews offers five grams of protein and 10 percent of the US recommended daily allowance of iron.

The same size portion of walnuts (approximately 14 walnut halves) offers four grams of protein, three percent USRDA value of calcium and five percent of the recommended daily value of iron.

Unsalted nuts are the best option, as the sodium levels can get out of hand if consuming quite a few salted nuts.

  Add cashews, walnuts or other favorite nuts atop a salad or in a bowl of oatmeal for a tasty boost.

2. Yogurt

Replace ice cream with yogurt or an organic frozen yogurt for a healthier version of a cool treat. One cup of plain yogurt provides nine grams of protein and a whopping 30 percent of the recommended daily value of calcium.

Yogurts made with whole milk typically offer more protein and calcium than non-fat or low-fat yogurt. Look out for sweetened yogurts, especially those with added fruit – sometimes even a small yogurt cup contains more sugar than a can of soda. Mix in your own raisins, fresh blueberries or strawberries for a healthier alternative to the pre-sweetened yogurts.

3. Grilled Salmon

Salmon is a good "gateway" health food, even for a teen that thinks they do not like fish. Its consistency and flavor is more like chicken than other types of fish and it can be grilled and seasoned in similar fashion to chicken.

Grilled salmon is also a lot more pure and additive-free than fish sticks or fried fish offerings found in fast food restaurants. Salmon provides loads of Omega 3 fatty acids that are good for the heart.

One average salmon filet provides 35 grams of protein, 75 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin B12, as well as high levels of other B vitamins and minerals. It also contains a small amount of calcium.

4. Fresh Fruit

Fresh fruit serves as a healthy way to satisfy those cravings for candies and sweets, without sacrificing flavor. Keep the fridge stocked with bunches of grapes, blueberries or strawberries and fill the fruit bowl with grab-and-go treats such as bananas, apples or oranges. 

A banana is nature's perfect on-the-go food, offering 33 percent of the daily value of vitamin C and 41 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin B6. It's also high in potassium and magnesium.

A fruit salad is just as much fun for breakfast as it is as a dessert or nighttime snack. Cut the fruits up yourself rather than choosing canned fruit cocktails or fruits packaged in syrups which may contain a lot of unnecessary extra sugar or other additives.

Get Your Teen to Eat Healthy

Whether you’re dealing with a picky eater or a child who is always on the go, getting a teen to eat healthy isn’t easy. But the adolescent years can be rife with eating disorders, body image issues, and weight problems, so it’s important to monitor your teen’s eating habits.

Eat dinner together as a family whenever you can. Keep your home stocked with healthy foods and be a good role model. Keep the focus on health, not weight, and get your teen involved in helping you prepare meals whenever possible.


American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 3rd ed. (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006).

National Institutes of Health: Iron

National Institutes of Health: Calcium

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