You’re there to help your children with their homework and you remind them to brush their teeth, but have you helped them do something good for their hearts lately? Having a healthy heart isn’t just for grown-ups — it’s never too early to start establishing a heart-healthy lifestyle for your children.
Here’s why: Even though children rarely get heart disease, the process leading to adult heart disease (the gradual buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances in arteries) can begin in childhood. This can put children at risk for a heart attack or even a stroke when they grow up.
A Fresh Start for Their Heart
Spring is the perfect time to make changes that can help your children and the entire family lower their risk for heart disease. Give these suggestions a try –
SERVE UP GOOD EATS
Saturated fats and trans fats can raise the risk of heart disease. When shopping, choose foods that are lower in saturated fat, such as lean meat and low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese — and limit foods that have trans fats, such as cookies, cakes, crackers and frozen pizza.
INVITE YOUR CHILDREN INTO THE KITCHEN
Let your children help you prepare healthy meals. It’s a great way to teach them about good food choices.
Children who are age 6 and older need 60 minutes of activity a day. Go on walks or bike rides; play sports together; or engage in fun, active games with your kids. Check out your local community centers for activities too.
SCHEDULE REGULAR CHECKUPS
Along with assessing overall health, a doctor can check a child’s weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Be sure all the adults in the family get their checkups too.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics (10/27/2013), “Encouraging a Healthy Weight for a Healthy Heart”, (accessed Jan. 11, 2018), available at aap.org; American Heart Association, “Keep your heart healthy with Life’s Simple 7 for Kids”, (accessed Jan. 11, 2018), available at www.heart.org.