You might think of heart disease as purely a problem associated with adults, not young children. But diet and exercise habits should begin at a young age for a lifetime of heart health.
According to the cardiology specialists in Secaucus, some of the preventable causes of adult heart disease that begin in childhood are:
- Unhealthy changes in cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Formation of fat deposits in the arteries
However, some say that heart disease risk can run in the families but the best cardiologists in New York City say a healthy diet can help every child reduce heart disease risk. If your family has a history of heart diseases, talk with your child’s healthcare provider about whether to have a child’s cholesterol and blood pressure measured regularly, in addition to watching for weight gain.
Healthy Food, Healthy Hearts!!
A balanced diet is essential for children and adolescents, not just to prevent heart disease but also to encourage healthy growth and development. The New Jersey Cardiovascular Institute says that a diet to prevens heart disease contains two important parts:
- Keeping daily calories in check because eating too many calories can cause weight gain.
- Limiting fat intake. Children should limit the quantity of fats, especially saturated fats, they eat.
Garden State Medical Group offers some guidelines for creating a heart-healthy diet in childhood:
- Breastfeed infants for as long as possible. Try to do it for at least a year, even after you teach them to eat the solid foods.
- Feed your child whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
- Pay particular advantage to portion sizes.
- Avoid aerated beverages and sugary drinks. Instead, serve water and low-fat milk.
- Avoid eating fast food too often. If you do eat out, make healthy choices and keep portion sizes reasonable.
- Limit juice to less than 6 ounces per day and make sure it’s pure, fresh juice.
- Total fat consumed should not be more than 30-35% of total daily calories for children aged 2-3 years old and 25-35% for those above 18 years old.
- Make healthier fat choices for your kids.
Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Heart!
Dr James Clifford, a cardiologist in Rochelle Park, New Jersey says that many of the daily choices children and adolescents make affect their risk of heart disease. Here are some choices that encourage children to eat healthier and will help protect their hearts in the long run.
- Children should get around an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity during most of the week.
- Kids are spending too much time in front of a TV, Computer or Playstation consul. Keep the screen time to less than two hours per day.
- Do not smoke. Prohibit smoking in your house and avoid places where people smoke cigarettes.
Identifying children who are at risk for cardiovascular diseases allows for early intervention. Though the manifestations of these diseases are often seen in adults, the problem is often rooted in childhood.
Remember, parents are the most important role model for kids. Your toddlers and teens will learn the best heart healthy choices by watching you, so make sure you walk a healthy path.