Nutritional Facts Of US School Lunches
The nutritional facts of US school lunches, have been analyzed by many health experts. The verdict is – a far from healthy meal, contributing too many calories from fat and low in vitamins, minerals and fiber. The food and nutrition division of the 'US Department of Agriculture' has taken note of this and provided guidelines on how to improve school lunches which will serve as building blocks of menu planning in the future. This blog shares some of the findings and nutritional facts of school lunches in the US and steps that can be taken to increase their nutrient density.
What A Typical US School Lunch Offers
Fresh fruits are provided by only half the schools as sugary fruit juices show up in the menu more often. Canned fruits preserved in sugar syrup are also common. This makes the meal very low in fiber and high in calories. Seasonal and locally available fruits must be made incorporated. Children must be encouraged to eat fruits with skin on.
Potato is the only vegetable that finds place in a lunch menu regularly, mostly in the form of fries. Green leafy and yellow orange vegetables are supplied by only 29 % of schools, which is a shockingly low number. Due to this fact, lunch in schools is low in essential nutrients like magnesium, potassium, iron and beta carotene. Vegetables can be introduced as dips, sandwich fillings, salads and soups.
This is a common beverage and all schools have ensured that one serving per child is guaranteed. This makes it possible to meet calcium requirements easily. Unfortunately, whole milk that has a high percentage of fat is being used. Also commercially purchased flavored milk is high in sugar. Instead skim or double toned fruit shakes are recommended.
Doughnuts, white bread sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and pizzas make up this food group. Since all these are made out of refined flour, it is not surprising that 99 % of all cereals consumed are highly processed. The cheese and meat burgers help meet the protein requirements but are still very low in fiber and water soluble vitamins like B1 and B2. Optionally whole wheat can be introduced to make all breads and biscuits, which taste just as great and are much better for health.
Much loved and looked forward to, they mainly consist of cookies, cakes and candies. They have plenty of butter and oil which cause the saturated and trans fats levels in the diet to shoot up. Fruit bowls, sweet yogurt and steamed puddings are better choices.
Having discussed the nutritional aspects in detail, there is no doubt that school lunches need a massive overhaul. Otherwise childhood obesity and hypertension are problems that we will have to deal with. Hopefully the new regulations will be implemented soon so that they can set an example of healthy eating.