Greek yogurt added to school lunch menus
In effort to provide healthier options, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made the announcement after running a pilot program in four states during the 2014 school year. During that time, over 200,000 pounds of yogurt was consumed by students.
Health experts caution that while Greek yogurt is high in calcium, vitamin D and protein, parents should still review the nutritional information.
“Try to look for brands that have no added sugar other than the natural sugars that come from the fruits mixed into the yogurt,” says Dr. Chrisopher Jamerson, pediatrician at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “In other words, look for Greek yogurt that is only yogurt and fruit with little or no additional ingredients, or simply yogurt by itself and add your own fresh fruit for flavor.
Greek yogurt can be a healthy meatless protein source for all kids, but for children who are following a strictly vegetarian or meat-free diet, parents should make sure their children are receiving adequate nutrition.
There is a chance these children are not receiving enough protein, Dr. Jamerson says. This means parents need to make sure the child is receiving a good balance of essential amino acids and their protein is coming from a variety of sources.
Barbara Fine, a dietitian at Advocate Children’s Hospital, suggests feeding kids nuts, seeds, nut or seed butters, boiled eggs, hummus, beans, veggie burgers and tofu based products to make sure kids are getting enough protein.
Children who are vegetarians, sometimes have low levels of iron, vitamin B-12, zinc and other minerals, so it can be helpful for parents to discuss this with their child’s pediatrician.
Dr. Jamerson recommends the following tips:
- Vitamin B-12: Have kids eat food that is commercially prepared and fortified with the vitamin
- Calcium: There is some calcium in some vegetables, but if kids do not eat milk or dairy products, a calcium supplement may be necessary.
- Vitamin D: If there is no dairy is in a child’s diet, it is also important to look for alternative sources
- Iron: Absorption of iron from vegetables can be improved by drinking citrus juice at a meal, but your child’s pediatrician may recommend a supplement as well.
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