High Cholesterol in Kids: Three Risk Factors
Adults are not the only ones affected with high cholesterol. Kids can also have high cholesterol levels, even if they are not overweight. There are three risk factors linked with high cholesterol levels in children:
- Bad Diet
Yes, hereditary factors are also responsible for high cholesterol levels in children. In most cases, kids with a family history of high cholesterol or early heart disease have greater risks of elevated cholesterol. According to Julie Brothers, (M.D.) medical director of the Lipid Heart Clinic at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “Although the most common reasons for high cholesterol are poor diet, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise, some apparently healthy children inherit high cholesterol levels from their parents."
Kids with a parent, sibling, grandparent, uncle or aunt with elevated cholesterol levels have high levels of LDL or Low-Density Lipoprotein. They may have Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH), a genetic tendency for excess cholesterol levels. LDL, also called “bad cholesterol", can lead to plaque build-up on the walls of arteries. This can result in an increased risk of premature heart disease or an early heart attack.
Along with overweight or obese children, kids with FH are also recommended to undergo a complete high cholesterol profile. Modifications in diet and regular exercise, in addition to medications prescribed by doctors, are the first-line treatment for children identified with high cholesterol levels.
Healthy Snacks for Kids: Snacks with low cholesterol and low Saturated Fat Content
While medications, regular screening and regular exercise results in controlled cholesterol levels, a major change in snacking habits among kids can do a world of good. Snacks eaten in-between meals provide the required energy. Healthy snacks are an important source of nutrients for fueling your kid’s high activity levels. But, it is important to avoid unhealthy junk foods that are usually lined up in your kids Tiffin. Junk foods high in saturated fat is the key factor for high cholesterol levels in children.
It is advisable to include nutritious snack foods rich in fiber and low in fat. Low saturated fat snacks are essential for your child’s health. But, it is also important to honor your child’s preferences, if possible. Choose a healthy snack which is tasty and easy to prepare that you and your kid can agree on. Here are some nutrient-rich and low saturated fat snacks for your child:
- A fruit salad – including apple, pear, peach, mango, apricots, banana and peach – all peeled and sliced, has all the required minerals, proteins, fiber and antioxidants. A fruit salad mixed with fat-free yoghurt is nutritious and healthy.
- The best substitutes for candy are dates, raisins, dried figs, apricots and prunes. These foods are highly nutritious and rich in iron.
- Popcorn can be your child’s favorite snack, but it is important to note that it should not be heavily salted or buttered. Air popped popcorn is the best high fibered snack loved by kids.
- Low fat yoghurt, cheese and low fat milk can also be included in your child’s diet.
- While preparing sandwiches for your kids, make sure it is made with whole-grain bread, fat-free mayonnaise and lean meat.
- The best non-fat alternatives to ice creams are ice blocks made with fresh and natural fruit juices. Ice creams are generally high in sugar and fat and contain lots of chemicals and additives. Squeezing oranges on ice block cups and then allowing it to freeze can be tasty and nutritious.
- A vegetable salad with carrot, celery sticks and cucumber can be a good snack choice for your kids. Carrots are rich in carotenes, which improves the health of your heart.
- Baked home made chips, instead of commercial chips, will certainly make your child munch with delight. You can chop potatoes into thin slices and arrange them on a large baking tray with two tablespoons of olive oil drizzled over them. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes to have some crunchy homemade chips.
Nutritious and low saturated snacks for your children cuts the risk of high cholesterol levels and also prevents heart diseases in later life. These wholesome snack ideas are not only tasty but also are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibers.