10 Foods Every Teen Should Eat
The healthiest foods for you are between these two slices of (whole-grain) bread. Chow down on at least three of these powerhouses every day to be strong, smart, and full of energy.
Figuring out how to eat a healthy diet can be harder than scoring tickets to a Beyoncé concert. You know you should reach for nutrient-rich foods, but it’s far easier to get your hands on a bag of potato chips when you’re starving than it is to find a sweet potato (which, by the way, is much more nutritious than a regular spud). To help take the “huh?” out of healthy eating, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best foods for teens, along with simple ways to fit them into your day. Put these superfoods into your rotation and you’ll feel unstoppable—guaranteed!
Fat-Free or Low-Fat Dairy
You need calcium to strengthen your skeleton (the teen years are crucial) and ward off broken bones. So trade soda for fat-free milk and throw string cheese into your bag for a low-fat dairy snack.
Our bodies don’t produce omega-3s—fatty acids that can improve brain function and mood—but you can get them by eating fish. So twice a week, pack tuna salad (made with canned light tuna) for lunch!
Whether you choose pinto, kidney, or black beans, you’re lowering your risk of two major health problems: obesity and diabetes. And yes, chickpeas are beans too, so dipping into hummus is another easy and tasty way to get your bean fix.
You should be eating five servings of fruit a day, but relying on apples and oranges gets boring fast. So try mango—one cup of this sweet tropical fruit supplies all of your immune-boosting vitamin C for the day, plus it tastes great alone or in a smoothie.
A scary 80 percent of teens are eating diets that set them up for heart disease. But whole oats (not instant) are champs at guarding against heart risks, like high cholesterol. Sweeten yours with fresh berries!
Pass the guac! Avocados benefit you both inside (they pack an antioxidant punch to help protect against cancer) and out (glowing skin!). As with peanut butter, the calories can quickly add up, so stick to half an avocado or ¼ cup of guacamole.
This thicker variety has twice the protein of regular yogurt and will keep you full and satisfied. Plain, low-fat is the way to go—fruit flavors can add as much sugar as a brownie! Just mix in a drizzle of honey if you find the flavor too tart.
Fat gets a bad rap, but the monounsaturated fats in peanut butter actually help keep your heart healthy. Just check the label to avoid added sugar, oils, and salt, and stick to two tablespoons (about the size of a golf ball) per serving, because nuts are also high in calories.
Ditch the iceberg lettuce and make a dark-green salad instead! One cup of kale gives you 200 percent of the vitamin C you need daily, and other leafy greens—like Swiss chard and spinach—are also power foods, rich in vitamin A, iron, and potassium.
Whole-Wheat Bread & Pasta
Whole-grain carbs are a top energy source—especially for your brain—and they’re healthier and more filling than the white varieties. Always check the label to make sure a whole grain (such as “whole wheat” and not just “wheat”) is listed first, and stay away from products in which sugar (aka corn syrup or fructose) is among the top-three ingredients.