4 Essential Nutritional Foods For Teenagers

Written by Palak Shah • 

Does your teenager eat nothing but junk food? Is he or she choosy when it comes to food habits? As a parent it is your duty to make your teen understand about the importance of consuming nutritious diet. Adolescence is the phase when your child undergoes rapid changes in his body. It is said that 20 percent of adult height and 50 percent of adult weight is gained during teen years.

Nutritional Foods For Teenagers:

During teenage, food is the fuel for growth and development. It is also the age when your child develops lasting eating habits. This is the time around when you can encourage your teen to have a healthy approach to food.

Physical changes due to puberty necessitate teens to have nutritious food in comparison to adults who have completed their growth spurts. A child’s stage of development and level of physical activity decide its energy and protein requirements. Also, during adolescence, they experience an increase in appetite so that their bodies utilize extra nutrition for growth.

It is said that 20% of adult height and 50% of adult weight is gained during teen years. If you are concerned about your teen’s food choices, we give you the best four nutritional foods for teens so that they can develop healthy eating habits.

[ Read: Nutrition For Teens ]

1. Potatoes:

Potato is a popular source of energy and fuel for bodies. They contain complex carbohydrates which offer short and quick energy boost. It helps to fuel all basic reactions like digestion, movement, cell division and thinking, in the body.

Nutritional Values Of Potato:

  •  Calories – 110
  • Total Carbohydrates – 26g (Dietary fiber – 2g, Sugars – 1g)
  • Protein – 3g
  • Vitamin C – 45%
  •  Vitamin B6 – 10%
  •  Thiamin – 8%
  • Riboflavin – 2%
  • Iron – 6%
  • Calcium – 2%
  • Niacin – 8%
  • Folate – 6%
  • Magnesium – 6%
  • Zinc – 2%
  • Copper – 4%

Health Benefits Of Potatoes:

  • The calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc present in potatoes help in maintaining and building bone structure and strength.
  • The dietary fiber improves the bulk of the stool, thus preventing constipation, protecting from colon polyps and cancers.
  • The fiber in potatoes maintains blood sugar levels and, therefore, is known to be the most reliable source of carbohydrates for diabetics.
  • The rich vitamin C in potatoes helps in developing resistance against infections and free radicals.
  • Potatoes contain kukomines, the blood pressure lowering molecules. They can show a great impact on regular consumption.
  • The flavonoids present in potato skin are good against cardiovascular diseases as they help lower bad cholesterol.
  • Vitamin B6, which has cellular renewal properties, helps to maintain healthy nervous system and thus balances mood.


  •  Potatoes contain a higher amount of potassium than a banana.
  • They contain more vitamin C than one medium tomato does.
  • One medium potato along with skin offers 8% of daily requirement of fiber.
  • One medium potato offers 6% of daily iron and 8% of daily Vitamin B6 requirements.

Bottom Line:

Potato is a comfort food that contains almost every essential nutrient. They are fulfilling and healthy for your teen when prepared in a proper manner.

[ Read: How Many Calories Do Teenagers Need ]

2. Blueberries:

Blueberries are another favorite summer fruit of all time. They are succulent, sweet, nutritious with several health benefits. It is a superfood and a nutrition powerhouse loaded with phytonutrients and fruit with benefits, unlike many others.

Nutritional Value Of Blueberries:

100g of blueberries contain the following nutrients:

  •  Energy – 57 K cal
  •  Carbohydrates – 14.49g
  •  Dietary fiber – 2.4g
  • Protein – 0.74g
  •  Fat – 0.33g
  • Vitamin A – 54 IU
  • Vitamin C – 9.7mg
  •  Vitamin K -19.3mg
  •  Vitamin E – 0.57mg
  • Potassium – 77mg
  • Sodium – 1mg
  • Calcium – 6mg
  • Magnesium – 6mg
  • Iron – 0.28mg
  • Zinc – 0.16mg
  • Manganese – 0.336mg

Health Benefits Of Blueberries:

  • Phosphorus, iron, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc, and manganese contribute towards bone structure and strength.
  • Blueberries are sodium-free and contain good amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium that are all known to lower blood pressure.
  • Research studies reveal that consumption of three servings of blueberries every day will help to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • The fiber content in blueberries helps reduce the cholesterol levels in blood and lowers the risk of heart ailments.
  • The antioxidants help reduce inflammation of the body, inhibit tumor growth and reduce the possibility of cancer.
  • Blueberries mitigate the risk of cognitive damage, improve motor coordination and alleviate short-term memory loss.
  • The fiber helps prevent constipation and aids in healthy digestion.


  •  Blueberries are the only natural foods which are in blue color.
  •  Fresh fruits are available from mid-June to mid-August.
  •  They rank the highest among fruits for antioxidant content.
  • One cup of blueberries provides 14% of daily fiber and 25% of daily Vitamin C requirement.

Bottom Line:

Blueberries are nutritious fruits, especially the raw berries offer you the greatest nutritional benefits and best flavor.

[ Read: High Protein Foods For Teens ]

3. Dark Chocolate (Cocoa):

Dark chocolate contains a lot of nutrients, which positively affect your teen’s health. It is made of cocoa seeds and is one of the best antioxidant sources.

Nutritional Value Of Dark Chocolate:

100g bar with 70 – 85% of cocoa contains the following nutritional value:

  • Fiber – 11g
  • Manganese – 98% of RDA
  • Copper – 89% of RDA
  • Iron – 67% of RDA
  • Magnesium – 58% of RDA
  • Contains good amounts of phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc

Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate:

  • Dark chocolate improves blood circulation and lowers the risk of blood clot formation.
  • It enhances cognitive function by improving blood flow to the brain and heart.
  • The antioxidants in dark chocolate protect your teen from free radical damage, the risk of cancer and reduce the signs of aging.
  • Dark chocolate, unlike other sweets, reduces the risk of cavities when you practice good oral hygiene.
  • Potassium and copper help prevent cardiovascular diseases and stroke.


  •  Though dark chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, it is less likely to keep you awake during the night since the amount of caffeine is less compared to coffee.
  • Eating two to three times a week will lower the risk of calcified plaque in the arteries by nearly 32%.
  • Dark chocolate helps improve walking ability for those suffering from peripheral artery disease.

Bottom Line:

Daily consumption of a small piece of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa content is an excellent way to supplement antioxidants in your teen.

4. Garlic:

Garlic is a widely used flavoring ingredient which is also incredibly nutritious. The phytonutrient substances present in garlic offer your teen amazing benefits against heart ailments, cancers, and infections.

Nutritional Value Of Garlic:

136g of garlic contains the following nutritional value:

  • Calories – 203
  •  Total fat – 1g
  • Total Carbohydrate – 45g (Dietary fiber – 3g; Sugar – 1g)
  •  Protein – 9g
  •  Vitamin C – 71%
  •  Calcium – 25%
  •  Iron – 13%

Health Benefits Of Garlic:

  • Garlic contains allicin, a compound responsible for its distinct smell and known for its health benefits.
  • It helps prevent and lower the severity of illnesses like common cold and flu.
  • Garlic has a significant impact on lowering blood pressure in those with hypertension.
  •  It improves cholesterol levels by reducing bad cholesterol, thereby lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • The antioxidants in garlic help protect against free radical damage and reduce the risk of aging. It is likely to lower the possibility of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  •  Garlic has got antibacterial and antifungal properties.


  • Raw and freshly grounded garlic is the healthiest.
  • The best way to receive the power of garlic is to cut it and then consume.
  •  Allicin acts as a blood thinner and therefore not advisable for those on anticoagulants.

Bottom Line:

Garlic is tasty as well as highly nutritious with bioactive compounds known for their disease fighting properties.

Hope this post of nutritional foods for teens will help your teenagers meet their nutrition needs. Do share your thoughts in the comment section below.

[ Read: Healthy Foods For Teens ]

Be Attentive About Teenage Nutrition:

The above mentioned teen nutrition list will ensure healthy development in teenagers. But over and above this, you should become cautious of the below mentioned things that need attention in course of your teens’ development:

1. Obesity in Teenagers:

When the energy consumption is high and there is less or no physical activity, young adults are slowly headed towards excessive weight gain or obesity. And obesity in the long run can prove fatal as it leads to various diseases.

2. Eating Disorder in Teenage Girls:

Research has proven that adolescent girls have become highly conscious about their appearance and body weight. This is leading them to become victims to life threatening conditions like anorexia nervosa or bulimia. In case of anorexia nervosa, teenagers avoid food on purpose and starve their body so to appear thin. Bulimia is a disorder where teenagers tend to consume plenty of food and later vomit the same to avoid gaining weight. Both are equally dangerous.

3. Junk Food:

Because of the tempting taste, teenagers simply cannot resist eating junk food. However, junk food is full of unhealthy fat and other harmful ingredients. Also this unhealthy binge triggers obesity and other heart related diseases in later stages.

4. Alcohol:

A teen should never involve in or get addicted to alcohol. It is believed to affect the functioning of brain. Apart from this, such a habit affects not only a teenager’s health but psychological and physiological aspects as well.

5. Sedentary Lifestyle:

Physical activity is as important as healthy diet for balanced development in teens. Your teenager should indulge in physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day. Lack of exercise can lead to long term illnesses and unhealthy body. You as a parent can easily become a role model for your teen to inculcate healthy eating habits in him/her. It is vital to start early in order to avoid any complicated issues that arise further due to negligence.

Hope this article on nutritional requirements for teenagers will help you meet your teenage nutrition needs. Do share your comments below.

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