10 Ways to Lower Cholesterol
Make living healthier a family affair. Kids usually aren’t the only ones at risk, so it’s important to make this a family effort. The steps you take to improve your family’s lifestyle can have a positive effect on your family’s health not only now, but far into the future.
Here are 10 ways to help keep your family’s cholesterol at healthy levels:
- Know your own cholesterol level — and if it’s high, ask to have your kids’ levels checked.
- Serve a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Choose from a variety of protein foods, including lean meats and poultry, fish, nuts, beans, peas, and soy products.
- Read nutrition facts labels so that you can limit cholesterol and saturated and trans fat intake. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend keeping dietary fat intake between 30%-40% for kids 1-3 years old and between 25%-35% for kids 4-18 years old, with most fats coming from sources of unsaturated fats (such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils).
- For kids over 2 years old and teens:
- limit cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams a day
- keep saturated fats to less than 10% of calories
- avoid trans fats as much as possible
- Choose nonfat or low-fat milk and dairy products.
- Stay away from solid fats. Use vegetable oils and trans-fat-free margarine.
- Limit beverages and foods with added sugars.
- Limit commercially prepared baked goods and serve healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, vegetables with low-fat dip, lite popcorn, and low-fat yogurt.
- Encourage plenty of exercise. Exercise helps boost HDL levels in the blood — and that’s a good thing! Kids and teens should be physically active at least 60 minutes a day. Source: KidsHealth.ORG
Resources for Adolescents
Children with LDL cholesterol levels 130 mg/dL or greater should receive individual nutritional counseling that focuses on reducing dietary fat and cholesterol and increasing physical activity. They should be tested again after 3 to 6 months of lifestyle intervention.
Medication might be considered for kids 10 and older with LDL cholesterol levels of 190 mg/dL or higher if changes in diet and exercise haven’t worked. For kids with additional risk factors, treatment may be considered at even lower levels.