Friday, February 1, 2013

Five heart-healthy tips for kids

Get outside and play for a healthy heart.
As adults, we focus on things like lowering cholesterol, eating more fiber, reducing our sugar intake, but the truth is our kids should be doing the same. Developing healthy habits as a young age will hopefully help children become healthy adults.  With childhood obesity at an all-time high, it is important that we educate children and help them choose nutrient-rich foods on a normal basis.

February is National Heart Month and today is Wear Red Day, a time we focus on healthy eating to have a healthy heart.  This should not just be for adults, but also for kids.  There are quite a few ways to help your child have a healthy heart happy tummy:

  1. Include a rainbow of colors of fruit and vegetables over the course of the day. Veggies are full of fiber which helps maintain a healthy cholesterol level.  Baby carrots or celery sticks at lunch or broccoli rice casserole at dinner can get the job done!
  2. Choose whole grains. Whether your child likes cereal, crackers, bread, granola bars or even waffles, choose 100% whole wheat/whole grain to increase your child’s fiber and nutrient intake.
  3. Decrease saturated fat intake. Saturated fat, or bad fats, or found in things like pastries, fried food and white, creamy sauces and dressings. Saturated fat can raise cholesterol so instead of alfredo sauce choose marinara, instead of biscuit choose whole wheat toast, instead of a piece of cake for dessert choose a yogurt parfait with berries and granola.
  4. Eat at home more often. Though there are healthy choices at restaurants and fast food places, typically they still have more fat and sodium than a fresh meal cooked at home. It may not be possible every night, but when you can…eat at home!
  5. Exercise. Get your kids moving!  No, this does not mean buy them a gym membership. Instead, get them active by taking them to the park, signing them up for swim lessons, letting them play in the backyard during the day, or even having them play a sports or dance.  Activity of all kinds makes the heart happy!
Amy Goodson is a registered dietitian with the Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine Program.

Have a question for the dietitian? Ask Amy.

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