Teaching your kids positive habits is one way to help protect them from heart disease, try some of the following from an early age.
In a culture filled with unhealthy habits and foods, instilling healthy habits in their children can be a huge challenge for parents. While it may not be possible to completely avoid fast food, there are many choices you can make to promote better heart health for your child.
* Protect your child with heart tests.
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The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents see their doctor for a number of physical exams and an assessment of personal and family medical history. Review your medical history periodically to look for risk factors such as chest pain, high blood pressure, and unexplained fainting, as well as any family history of heart disease.
* Help your child eat a heart-healthy diet.
High cholesterol is one of many risk factors for heart disease, but sifting through all the information and recommendations can be overwhelming.
Aaron Owens, Clinical Pediatric Dietitian at Seattle Children’s, says now is the time for parents to help their children develop heart-healthy habits when it comes to food.
* Substitute unsaturated fats for saturated fats:
Saturated fats are mainly found in meat and dairy products, as well as tropical oils like coconut and palm oil. Saturated fats can raise LDL, so limit them in your child’s diet. On the other hand, unsaturated fats can help raise HDL, so use them instead when you can. Unsaturated fats are found in nuts, avocados, and oils like olive and canola.
* Limit processed foods:
Processed foods, like crackers and doughnuts, contain hydrogenated oils and are high in trans fats that can raise LDL. Trans fats are particularly bad for the heart and should be avoided when possible.
* Add fiber-rich foods:
Fiber is necessary for a heart-healthy diet. Soluble fiber binds to LDL cholesterol and helps remove it from the body. You can add oats, beans, and lentils to your child’s diet to help increase fiber intake.
* Encourage children to be more active.
Regular activity makes us healthier. A stronger heart pumps blood more efficiently, which can help lower blood pressure. Five simple tips parents can use to help their children develop a love of activity:
* As your child’s playmate:
Children are more active if they have an active partner, so plan family activities like walking to the park, cycling, swimming, dancing, etc.
* Going outdoors:
Outdoor activities are a great way to keep kids active, and most kids don’t get enough outdoor play time on a regular basis. Make it a goal to get outside once a day and don’t let the cold weather discourage you.
* Create a playground at home:
Create a list of indoor activities, like dancing or throwing a ball, to keep your child engaged.
* Plan family outings:
Set aside time for fun in the evenings and weekends when the family is together. Sign up for activities your child enjoys, like swimming lessons or karate lessons.
* Search for “opportunities to work”:
Building up a “little bit of activity” throughout the day, whether it’s taking the stairs at the mall, taking your kids to school, or taking an evening walk to the grocery store instead of driving will help kids stay active. more active.
* Talk to your child about the dangers of smoking.
The health risks associated with smoking – including heart disease have been well documented. The good news for parents is that teen tobacco use has dropped dramatically in recent years. From a high of 39% of U.S. teens smoking in 1976, to a low of 19% in 2012. However, parents still need to make sure teens are aware of the dangers of smoking. .
One worrying trend is the increasing use of e-cigarettes. In addition to an increased risk of cancer and other infectious diseases, e-cigarette smokers may be absorbing higher concentrations of the toxins found in cigarette smoke – toxins known to clog arteries and cause heart disease.
If you know or suspect your child is smoking, experts recommend starting by asking questions, listening, and sharing the basics of tobacco. They also encourage parents to set family rules about drug and alcohol use, and make sure teens are aware of expectations and consequences.
* Teach children to read the ingredient list in food.
Train your kids to learn about their foods before buying so they know what to look for and what to avoid. Reading the ingredient list will help children become more aware of their diet for the rest of their lives
It’s never too late to start good habits. From this point on, help your child form good habits for his heart in particular and for his overall health in general to lead the life he wants.