Heart Health Tips for Your Child

During these “shut in” times in which kids have online school, the kitchen is always open, and organized sports is on hold, it’s easy for a sedentary lifestyle to take hold.  Maintaining heart health is important for kids and teens so please read the tips below

What Are Some Ways My Child Can Improve Their Cardio Health?

Adding even one or two things that are good for your child’s daily routine can have a huge impact on his/her health. The following are a few steps that you can take as a family that don’t require a lot of time or cost a lot of money:

  • Limit TV, phone, and computer screen time so that your child gets some movement
  • Make physical activity a family affair by going for walks or playing games together outside on a daily basis.
  • No one is going to go from couch potato to athlete in a week, so set realistic goals and limits and celebrate the small successes.
  • Plan and cook meals as a family. Even picky eaters are more likely to try something new if they had a hand in preparing it.
  • Make sure the entire family gets annual physicals.

What Are Indicators Of Good Cardio Health In Kids/Teens?

According to the American Heart Association, the following are the essential components of good heart health in children and teens:

  • Avoid using any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes: The nicotine in tobacco products damages blood vessels and contains some of the same chemicals found in hazardous substances ranging from insecticides to nuclear waste.
  • Be physically active: Children should get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.
  • Eat foods that are good for your heart: A heart-healthy diet includes whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: According to the American Heart Association, approximately one-third of American children are overweight or obese, which increases their risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. Your health care provider can determine if your child is at a healthy weight based on their age and current height and weight.
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels: Your healthcare provider can help you determine the appropriate goals for each of these numbers since they can vary with your child’s age.

How Can I Encourage My Child To Eat Heart-Healthy Recipes?

Children and teens are notoriously picky eaters, so getting them to ditch the chicken strips and fries for heart-healthy recipes can be a challenge. The following are a few strategies can make it easier to get kid-friendly, healthy meals on the table:

  • Opt for homemade foods instead of processed or already-prepared foods. This does take a little more time and planning; however, it allows you to control the quality of the ingredients as well as the salt and sugar content.
  • Go grocery shopping with your kids. This is the perfect opportunity to teach them how to read nutrition labels and choose foods that are good for the heart.
  • Don’t be afraid to hide extra vegetables in your family’s favorite recipes. For example, you can swap out some of the cheese in macaroni and cheese with squash or pumpkin puree without it drastically changing the taste or the texture.
  • Replace some of the salt you use when cooking with fresh or dried herbs and spices.

What Are Some Snack Foods That Are Good For The Heart?

When kids are hungry, it is only natural for them to reach for the quickest snack option available, which usually means something salty or sugary and loaded with calories. Having precut and washed fruit and veggie slices, hummus dip, nuts, low-fat string cheese, and other healthy options on hand will allow your child to make better snack choices.

What Are Some Heart-Healthy Drinks For Kids?

A single soda can contain up to eight ounces of sugar, which is more than anyone should have in a day. Heart-healthy drinks include water, low-fat and unsweetened milk and plant-based milk alternatives, and unsweetened fruit juices.

Of course, one of the best ways to get your child to adopt heart-healthy habits is to make a healthy lifestyle a priority for your whole family. If your child sees you doing things that are good for your heart, they are more likely to adopt those same habits.

With just a little planning and attention, you can put your child on the road to heart health.