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Low-Cholesterol Advice for Kids and Teens

A Registered Dietitian Provides Tips for Parents

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Updated March 21, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Are you a parent concerned about your teens or kids' high cholesterol? Wondering what to do to help guide them to a low-cholesterol diet? A registered dietitian and mother of four (ages 13 to 19) provides helpful hints to make the transition easier for your family.

Family First

"Focus on making small changes as a family. If the children are old enough, have a family meeting and explain why eating well is important. Our children's best role models are parents, so it begins with us! Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables with every eating occasion throughout the day.  These fruits and vegetables help provide vital nutrients.  Try not to create a nutrition cop approach, but talk about how good the food tastes and how it is good for your body. It may take some time, but the more items are offered, the higher the chance the child will eat the food item, recommends Patricia Guay-Berry, clinical nutrition manager at Suburban Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland.

Dietitian's Tips

Below are strategies that Guay-Berry has successfully used with her own children.

  • Try yogurt and oatmeal with wheat germ and/or ground flax seed mixed in.  (You can also add it to pancake/waffle mixes)
  • Mix whole grain cereals with some sweet cereals with skim milk or plain soy milk.
  • Use ground turkey breast or texturized vegetable protein (TVP) – it’s lower in saturated fat and also cheaper than turkey breast - in spaghetti, burritos, or lasagna.
  • Broil salmon with McCormick’s all purpose seasoning.  Experiment with salmon burgers and veggie burgers.
  • For pasta, sauté veggies, puree and mix in with the sauce – zucchini and summer squash work well with this.  A great book to get more ideas: “Stealth Health, Eating Right in Spite of Yourself”, (Penguin, 2000 by Evelyn Tribole, MS,RD).
  • For mashed potatoes, add in cauliflower and turnip – mash all together with skim milk, margarine or plain Greek yogurt.
  • Make your own smoothies. When bananas start to over ripen, peel and put them in the freezer – always have on hand vanilla yogurt (our favorite is Stoneyfield Farm) and frozen berries – have the fixings for smoothie.  Consider purchasing an emulsion blender to make it even easier.
  • For the child that loves chips, only purchase baked chips or chips without hydrogenated oils.  Make homemade guacamole. (It’s very easy!) or purchase/prepare fresh salsa (in produce area of grocery store). 
  • Encourage kids to cook – if they are involved with the process of cooking it, they may be more willing to try it.  It can be fun!  Try making kale chips – they may find they like this better than potato chips.

Bottom Line

Variety and patience are key to introducing your children to more cholesterol-friendly habits.  Experiment with new foods, try variations on old favorites and in time your children will be eating more healthfully.

 

 Sources:

<p> Personal Interview. 1/25/11 Patricia Guay-Berry.</p>

 

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