February 14 is Valentine’s Day and the best gift you can give your kids is nutrition for a healthy heart.
Compelling research suggests that fatty buildup in arteries begins in childhood and is more likely with higher blood cholesterol levels. For that reason, the American Heart Association offers advice for children and teens about these related health risks:
- Cigarette smoking: discourage it.
- High blood pressure: identify and treat it.
- Obesity: prevent it or reduce weight.
- Diabetes: diagnose and treat it.
- Inactivity: encourage regular aerobic exercise (30 to 60 minutes), on most days of the week. At the same time, kids need to eat enough fruits and vegetables each day, and choose foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.
For cardiovascular health, young people, ages two through nineteen years, should maintain acceptable blood cholesterol levels:
|High||200 or greater||130 or greater|
|Borderline||170 to 199||110 to 129|
|Acceptable||Less than 170||Less than 110|