Adolescents need proper nutrition for bone and muscle development, recovery from sports, cognition and strong immune systems. In a recent issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists, contributing editor Linda Milo Ohr looked at new research behind seven ingredients that are essential for growing teens and tweens.
1. Protein – Lean protein is necessary for muscle development as well as weight management and sports recovery for teens and tweens. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that afternoon snacking, particularly on high-protein soy foods, improved appetite, satiety and diet quality in adolescents, while beneficially influencing aspects of mood and cognition.
2. Whole Grains – Whole grains are an important source of many essential nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, protein and iron. A study in the journal Pediatrics showed that every 10 g of fiber in adolescence and young adulthood was linked with a 14 percent and 13 percent lower risk of later breast cancer, respectively, and that young women eating the most fiber in adolescence and young adulthood (25 g per day) were 25 percent less likely to get breast cancer than those eating the least fiber (12 g per day).
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to benefit heart health and may also help cognition. A supplementation trial published in the journal Nutrients found a possible indication that krill oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acid content, can encourage a higher information processing speed and less impulsivity in adolescents with a higher omega-3 index.
4. Probiotics – Probiotics have been shown to play a role in both immunity and digestive health for adolescents. Another study in Pedatrics showed that supplementation for six months supported respiratory health with symptom duration shortened from 6.5 to 3.5 days.
5. Prebiotics – Prebiotics benefit digestive health but also have been shown to aid in calcium absorption, which is important for teens and tweens who are still growing. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition suggested moderate daily intake of soluble corn fiber, a prebiotic, increased short-term calcium absorption in adolescents consuming less than the recommended amount of calcium.
6. Blueberries – Blueberries are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K. A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found cognitive improvements in children aged 7-10 who consumed wild blueberries.
7. Dairy Foods – According to Ohr, adolescents tend to fall short of their daily quotas of calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin D. All of which can be found in dairy foods, as well as other essential nutrients including protein, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.