According to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this year, the majority of teenagers aren’t consuming the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. In fact, only 7.1 percent of high schoolers meet fruit intake recommendations and only 2 percent eat enough vegetables.
Jalak Patel, one of our registered dietitians, stresses the importance of fruits and vegetables during the adolescent age.
“These foods give us essential nutrients that our body needs to function well, to think well, to have a good energy level and to have good cognitive function,” Jalak shares.
The recommendations for fruits and vegetables differ for boys and girls. Girls should get 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables, while boys should eat 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables.
“Most vegetables give us the calcium and phosphorus that we need in our diet,” Jalak adds. “This helps with bone health.”
If high school-aged kids aren’t getting enough of these vital nutrients, they can be predisposed to diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases.
“We’re finding that our teenagers now have elevated lipids, which are a marker for cardiovascular disease,” Jalak says.
Here are a few tips to encourage your teen to eat more fruits and vegetables:
- Making vegetables more appealing by adding a small amount of cheese. “It’s not the end all be all if we have a little cheese on our broccoli,” Jalak says.
- Use breakfast as an opportunity to sneak fruits in. “Just have half a banana and some peanut butter or yogurt with fruit added on top. Smoothies using frozen fruit are another great way to get a serving of fruit,” Jalak adds.