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Heart Healthy Eating

What is heart healthy eating?

A diet high in fat and cholesterol may contribute to the development of heart disease in adulthood. A "heart healthy" diet may help prevent or treat high blood cholesterol levels. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition recommends that healthy children age 2 years or older follow a diet low in fat (30 percent of calories from fat). These are the same recommendations for healthy adults. A diet high in fat, especially saturated fat, may increase your child's risk for heart disease and obesity in adulthood. It is important to teach your child about healthy eating so that they can make healthy food choices as adults.

It is important not to put children under the age of 2 years on a low fat diet unless advised by your child's physician. Children under the age of 2 years need fat in their diets to promote appropriate growth and development.

What is saturated fat?

Saturated fat is a type of fat that is found in foods. This type of fat may raise the body's total blood cholesterol level more than other types of fat. Most saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Some foods high in saturated fat include the following:

What is unsaturated fat?

Unsaturated fat is a type of fat that is found in foods. This type of fat does not usually increase the body's total blood cholesterol level when eaten in moderate amounts. Some foods high in unsaturated fats include the following:

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is made by the body and found in some foods. Cholesterol found in foods is called dietary cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is found in animal foods such as the following:

Plant foods (grains, fruits, and vegetables) do not contain cholesterol. If the body's blood cholesterol gets too high, then cholesterol may build up in the heart and cause damage.

Making healthy food choices:

The food guide pyramid is a good guideline to help you and your child eat a heart healthy diet. The Food Guide Pyramid can help you and your child eat a variety of foods while encouraging the right amount of calories and fat.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services have prepared the following "food pyramids" to guide parents in selecting foods for children 2 to 6 years of age, and for children over age 6.

Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children, USDA
Click Image to Enlarge

The pyramid below applies to anyone 6 years of age to adulthood. However, remember that a serving size for a 6-year-old is going to be much smaller than an adult serving size. Do not attempt to make small children eat adult-sized portions in order to comply with this pyramid. Also, when a range of serving numbers is given (such as 6 to 11 servings of bread, rice, or pasta), it is more appropriate to ensure a 6-year-old has the lesser of the two amounts (6 servings rather than 11).

Food Guide Pyramid for Adults, USDA
Click Image to Enlarge

Guidelines for decreasing fat intake:

Food adjustments:

Consider the following examples of food for healthier eating:

Food Product Category Eat Less Eat More
Meat and meat substitutes Regular beef, pork, lamb, regular ground beef, fatty cuts of meat

Poultry with skin, fried chicken

Fried fish

Regular lunch meat (bologna, salami, sausage, hot dogs)

Beef, pork, lamb, lean cuts

(90 percent lean, well-trimmed before cooking)

Poultry without skin

Fish, shellfish

Processed meat prepared from lean meat

Dry bean and peas

Tofu and tempeh

Eggs Egg yolks (limit to 3 per week - includes eggs used in cooking) Egg whites

Egg substitutes

Dairy products Milk: whole and 2 percent milk

Yogurt: whole milk types

Cheese: Regular cheeses (American, cheddar, Swiss, blue, Monterey Jack, cream cheese)

Frozen dairy desserts: regular ice cream

Milk: nonfat (skim), low-fat, buttermilk

Yogurt: nonfat or low-fat

Cheese: low-fat or nonfat types

Frozen dairy desserts: low-fat or nonfat ice cream, low-fat or nonfat frozen yogurt

Fats and oils Coconut oil, palm kernel, palm oil, butter, lard, shortening, bacon fat, regular mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, and salad dressings Unsaturated oils: safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, canola, olive, peanut

Low-fat or nonfat mayonnaise, margarine, sour cream, cream cheese, and salad dressings

Starches, Breads and Cereals Biscuits, cornbread, muffins, pancakes, breakfast pastries, doughnuts, waffles, granolas, fried rice, and packaged pasta and rice mixes, cream soups Whole-grain breads, pasta, rice, and cereals made without added fat

Reduced-fat soups

Vegetables Vegetables fried or prepared with butter, cheese, or cream sauce; olives, avocados Fresh, frozen, or canned, without added fat or sauce
Fruit Fried fruit or fruit served with butter or cream sauce Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried

Comparison of typical meal plan verses low-fat meal plan:

Typical menu:

BREAKFAST DINNER
3/4 cup orange juice

1 cup corn flakes

1/2 cup 2 percent milk

2 regular tacos (with fried corn tortillas)

2 ounces regular ground beef

1/2 cup regular refried beans

1 ounce shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup green beans and butter

LUNCH SNACK
1 double cheeseburger

1 large order french fries

2 packets ketchup

1 carton 2 percent milk

2 chocolate chip cookies

1 cup 2 percent milk

TOTAL:

90 g fat (41 percent of total calories)

260 mg cholesterol

Low-fat menu:

BREAKFAST DINNER
3/4 cup orange juice

1 cup corn flakes

1/2 cup skim milk

1 small banana

2 soft-shell tacos (tortilla not fried)

2 ounces extra-lean ground beef

1/2 cup fat-free refried beans

1 ounce shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup green beans with margarine

LUNCH SNACK
1 single cheeseburger

1 regular order french fries

2 packets ketchup

1 carton 1 percent milk

1 low-fat frozen yogurt cone

3 graham cracker squares

1 cup skim milk

SNACK TOTAL
1 medium apple

1 tablespoon peanut butter

66 g fat (30 percent of total calories)

165 mg cholesterol

TOTAL:

66 g fat (30 percent of total calories)

165 mg cholesterol

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Online Resources of Cardiovascular Disorders


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