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 and 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 he or she can make healthy food choices as adults.
It is important not to put children younger than age 2 on a low-fat diet unless advised by your child's health care provider. Children younger than age 2 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:
Nuts and seeds
Corn oil and vegetable oils
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 blood vessels and cause damage.
Making healthy food choices
The Choose My Plate icon is a guideline to help you and your child eat a healthy diet. My Plate can help you and your child eat a variety of foods while encouraging the right amount of calories and fat. The USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have prepared the following food plate to guide parents in selecting foods for children age 2 and older.
The My Plate icon is divided into five food group categories, emphasizing the nutritional intake of the following:
Grains. Foods that are made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain are grain products. Examples include whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal.
Vegetables. Vary your vegetables. Choose a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), and starchy vegetables.
Fruits. Any fruit or 100 percent fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut up, or pureed.
Dairy. Milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Focus on fat-free or low-fat products, as well as those that are high in calcium.
Protein. Go lean on protein. Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry. Vary your protein routine—choose more fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans.
Oils are not a food group, yet some, such as nut oils, contain essential nutrients and can be included in the diet. Others, such as animal fats, are solid and should be avoided.
Exercise and everyday physical activity should also be included with a healthy dietary plan.
Nutrition and activity tips:
Try to control when and where food is eaten by your children by providing regular daily meal times with social interaction and demonstration of healthy eating behaviors.
Involve children in the selection and preparation of foods and teach them to make healthy choices by providing opportunities to select foods based on their nutritional value.
For children in general, reported dietary intakes of the following are low enough to be of concern by the USDA: vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Select foods with these nutrients when possible.
Most Americans need to reduce the amount of calories they consume. When it comes to weight control, calories do count. Controlling portion sizes and eating nonprocessed foods helps limit calorie intake and increase nutrients.
Parents are encouraged to provide recommended serving sizes for children.
Parents are encouraged to limit children’s video, television watching, and computer use to less than two hours daily and replace the sedentary activities with activities that require more movement.
Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days for maintenance of good health and fitness and for healthy weight during growth.
To prevent dehydration, encourage children to drink fluid regularly during physical activity and drink several glasses of water or other fluid after the physical activity is completed.
To find more information about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 and to determine the appropriate dietary recommendations for your child’s age, sex, and physical activity level, visit the Online Resources page for the links to the ChooseMyPlate.gov and 2010 Dietary Guidelines sites. Please note that the My Plate plan is designed for people older than age 2 who do not have chronic health conditions.
Always consult your child’s health care provider regarding his or her healthy diet and exercise requirements.
Guidelines for decreasing fat intake:
Bake, broil, or grill foods instead of frying whenever possible.
Choose low-fat meats such as chicken, fish, turkey, lean pork, and lean beef (meat without visible fat and without skin).
Limit high-fat meats such as sausage, bacon, hot dogs, salami, pepperoni, bologna, and fried meat.
Increase intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Use fruits as dessert instead of high-fat desserts (for instance, ice cream, cake, cookies).
Limit amounts of added fat such as margarine, butter, oil, salad dressing, and mayonnaise.
Use low-fat dairy products such as low-fat milk, low-fat or fat-free cheese, low-fat or fat-free sour cream and cream cheese, and low-fat ice cream.
Consider the following examples of food for healthier eating:
Food Product Category
Meat and meat substitutes, poultry, fish, dry beans, and nuts
Regular beef, pork, lamb, regular ground beef, fatty cuts of meat
Poultry with skin, fried chicken
Regular lunch meat (bologna, salami, sausage, hot dogs)
Beef, pork, lamb, lean cuts (90 percent lean, well-trimmed before cooking)
Poultry without skin
Processed meat prepared from lean meat
Dry beans and peas
Tofu and tempeh
Nuts and seeds
Fried eggs in butter
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, salad dressings, and trans fats
Unsaturated oils: safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, canola, olive, peanut
Low-fat or nonfat mayonnaise, margarine, sour cream, cream cheese, and salad dressings
Grains (whole grains and refined grains)
Refined grains, biscuits, cornbread, muffins, pancakes, breakfast pastries, doughnuts, waffles, granolas, fried rice, and packaged pasta and rice mixes
Whole-grain breads, pasta, rice, and cereals made without added fat
Vegetables (dark green, red and orange, legumes, beans and peas, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables)
Vegetables fried or prepared with butter, cheese, or cream sauce; olives, avocados
Fresh, frozen, or canned, without added fat or sauce
Fruit (whole, cut up, pureed, and 100 percent fruit juice)
Fried fruit or fruit served with butter or cream sauce
Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried