Heart Healthy Tips for Children and Adults

Health & Wellness on 02.17.12
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One out of three kids today are obese or overweight.

Obesity causes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes in children.  Heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in Americans. In the past, these severe diseases have affected adults, not our kids. But that is changing.

February is Heart Health Month and it is the perfect time to discuss healthy eating and physical activity with our kids. It is a time to educate children on heart healthy lifestyles. Heart disease is also hereditary. I know, for example, that both of my parents suffer from heart disease and I want to make sure that my children and myself take precautions to fight against it. That's why I am making efforts to instill in my kids the awareness needed to connect lifestyle choices and the positive outcomes they can lead to.

Heart Healthy Tips for Kids

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Discuss The Food Plate with your kids and make sure to eat the rainbow - meaning choose a variety of colorful fruits and veggies.
  • Eat whole grains.  At least one half of your kid's grains should be whole grains. 
  • Eat plenty of fiber. How much fiber do kids need? It's easy, their age plus 5 grams.
  • Choose low-fat dairy and protein foods and avoid trans-fats altogether. 
  • Get moving! Kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Heart Healthy Tips for Parents

  • Eat a heart healthy diet. This means choosing low-saturated fat foods, keeping daily sodium under 1,500mg per day, at least 4.5 cups of fruits and veggies per day, and including high fiber whole grains.
  • Consume omega-3's by eating oily fish two times per week or supplementing with fish oils.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.  Engage in regular physical activity.
  • Keep stress levels in check.

So make Heart Health Month count this year.  Educate your family on staying heart healthy, and you can continue to enjoy each other's company for years to come. 

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