We constantly hear about childhood obesity and that this young generation is on track to be the first generation in history to have a lower life expectancy than their parents. Scary stuff, but is it true? Well, I’m not going to quote any major scientific articles I’m just going to offer some first hand experience.
Young children, as young a 8 years old, are being referred with diagnoses of high cholesterol, high triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, and elevated insulin. If your child falls into one of these groups he or she is definitely at risk and if you’re not already doing something to change the entire family’s eating habits then, yes, you should be worried. If you haven’t had your child tested, but you have a strong family history for these conditions, and you know your family’s diet isn’t exactly up to par or your child is overweight – he or she should be tested.
A healthy heart begins with a healthy diet, which means lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean means and beans. Heart healthy eating is the same for kids as it is for adults and all changes that occur need to be family-wide – chances are everyone in the household can benefit from eating a healthier diet. Two easy ways you can reduce your family’s heart disease risk tonight are:
1. Serve at least 2 vegetarian meals a week. That can mean one night of whole wheat pasta with sauce and one night of rice and bean burritos.
2. Reduce the amount of red meat your family eats to only once a week. Eating red meat has been linked not only to heart disease but cancer as well.
Unsaturated fats, the “good fats”, will actually help protect you from heart disease. So, while you’re cutting red meat feel free to add peanut butter, fish, olive oil, avocados, flax seed, almonds, and walnuts to your family’s diet. Have your family watch this fun webisode from the American Heart Association to learn more about Unsaturated and Saturated Fats: