It’s hard to imagine talking about our children and heart disease, but it is a sad reality for some. There are a few contributing factors that can put your children at risk, so knowing your family history and following a smart heart healthy diet is a wise way to lower the risk of heart disease in kids.
The sad reality is that American children eat far more saturated fats than kids in other developed countries, leading to higher blood cholesterol levels. Therefore, they are far more likely to have signs of early hardening of the arteries.
But there is hope!
Changing your family’s diet can make a huge difference, and can help the entire household get healthier. Choosing low-fat dairy products, eating leaner meats, and including more poultry, fish, fresh fruit and vegetable in your diet can reduce your risk for heart disease.
The American Heart Association lists these 10 quick healthy eating tips:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Choose whole-grain foods which can be a good source of dietary fiber.
- Eat fish, especially oily fish (for example salmon, trout, herring), at least twice a week.
- Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats.
- Limit the amount of red meat you eat and choose lean meats and poultry. There are also many meat-free alternatives to get protein.
- Select fat-free (skim), 1%-fat and low-fat dairy products.
- Limit your intake of beverages and foods with added sugars.
- Learn about sodium and the common foods that have too much of it.
- If you want to snack, go nuts! A serving size is a small handful or 1.5 ounces of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
But don’t look to food alone! Children should get at least 30-60 minutes of activity a day. Bike riding, running, swimming, walking, playing on a sports team, and other activities will get them into great habits that will stay with them throughout their lives.
Yeah, we all love to veg out on the couch watching a movie and eating a pizza, but not all the time. Limiting junk food and developing healthy habits will affect everyone in the family.
There are enough problems we can’t prevent, but this is one that we can seriously reduce the risk of developing.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease:
- High blood pressure
- High blood level of cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- Family history of early-onset heart disease
So if there is heart disease in your family and/or you know that your family has poor eating habits, sit down with your doctor and let them help you get the information you need to make a change that will last a lifetime!
For more information, the American Heart Association has put together a guide. Check out Life’s Simple 7 for kids – 7 Simple Ways to Live Better.