Healthy Foods That a 14-Year-Old Should Eat
Over 20 percent of American children and adults are deficient in essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A and magnesium, reported the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a 2005 study. The best way to ensure a 14-year-old consumes enough nutrients is for him to regularly eat healthy foods from five major food groups: grains, dairy, protein, fruits and vegetables. Children and teenagers who are vegetarians or vegans should also consume foods from these groups, though they should be careful to include foods fortified with vitamin B-12 or a vitamin B-12 supplement in their diet if they don’t eat any animal-based products. Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you’re concerned about your 14-year-old’s eating habits.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 14-year-old girl should consume six 1-ounce servings of grains each day, while a boy of the same age needs eight 1-ounce servings daily. A 1-ounce serving of grains could be one slice of bread, ½ cup of cooked oatmeal, rice or pasta, one flour or corn tortilla or 1 cup of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. For the most nutrition and fiber, 14-year-olds should aim to eat whole grains whenever possible, such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice or whole-grain noodles. The USDA says that at least half of a child's or teenager’s grains should be whole grains, not refined grains such as those from doughnuts and white-flour pasta.
A 14-year-old boy or girl needs three servings of dairy products each day, advises the USDA. A single dairy serving is equivalent to 1 cup of yogurt, milk, calcium-fortified soy milk or frozen yogurt; 2 cups of cottage cheese; 1/3 cup of shredded cheese or 1 ½ ounces of hard cheese. A 14-year-old should avoid full-fat versions of these dairy products in favor of non-fat or low-fat dairy items that contain no more than 1 percent milk fat.
A 14-year-old boy requires six-and-a-half 1-ounce servings of protein daily, and a 14-year-old girl needs five 1-ounce servings, though the USDA cautions that teens who are more physically active may need more protein each day. A 1-ounce serving of protein can be one egg, ¼ cup of cooked beans or legumes, ¼ cup of tofu, ½ ounce of nuts or seeds, 1 tablespoon of nut butter or 1 ounce of meat, poultry or seafood. It’s best for teen boys and girls to avoid processed or cured meats and seafood canned in oil in favor of lean protein choices like skinless chicken, lean steak or beans.
Fruit that’s fresh, canned in juice or dried, as well as 100 percent fruit juice all count towards fulfilling a 14-year-old’s daily recommended intake of fruit. Girls of this age need about 1 ½ cups of fruit per day; boys need 2 cups. A cup of fruit juice, ½ cup of dried fruit and 1 cup of most fresh fruits or one small whole piece of fruit are considered a serving of fruit. For the most nutrition, 14-year-olds should steer clear of sweetened fruit products or fruit canned in heavy syrup.
A 14-year-old boy should have 3 cups of vegetables daily, and girls of the same age need 2 ½ cups. However, it’s just as important for teens to consume a wide variety of vegetables as it is for them to eat enough, says the USDA. Each week, 14-year-olds should consume some starchy vegetables like corn or potatoes, dark green vegetables like broccoli or spinach, beans, red and orange vegetables such as tomatoes and carrots and other vegetables like mushrooms, cucumbers or asparagus. In general, a serving is 1 cup of raw, cooked or juiced vegetables, though 2 cups of raw green leafy vegetables count as one serving.
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