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Diseases & Conditions

Pediatric Guidelines for Lowering Cholesterol

High Blood Cholesterol = Higher Risk for Heart Disease

Too much cholesterol leads to a buildup (called plaque) on the walls of the arteries. The arteries supply blood to the heart and other organs. Plaque can narrow the arteries and block the blood flow to the heart, causing heart problems.

Help prevent heart disease by encouraging your child to:

1. Eat foods that are free of trans fat and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

After 2 years of age, children and adolescents should gradually adopt a diet that, by approximately 5 years of age, contains less than 7% of calories from saturated fat.

Begin to consume fewer calories from fat and replace these calories by eating more whole grain products, fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk products or other calcium-rich foods, beans, lean meat, poultry, fish, or other protein-rich foods.

Instead of… Choose…
Butter Light or diet margarine
Regular cheese Lowfat or fat-free cheese
Creamer or half-and-half Fat-free creamer or fat-free half-and-half
Whole or 2% milk 1% or fat-free (skim) milk
Cream cheese Lowfat or fat-free cream cheese
Regular ice cream Fat-free or lowfat frozen yogurt or sorbet
2-4% milkfat cottage cheese 1% or fat-free cottage cheese
Cream-based soups Broth-based soups
Creamy salad dressings Oil and vinegar or reduced fat or fat -free salad dressings
Mayonnaise Light or fat-free mayonnaise
Prime grades of beef Choice or select grades of beef
Spareribs Tenderloin
Ground beef Ground sirloin, ground round
Chicken with skin on Chicken without skin
Whole egg Egg whites or egg substitutes

At least half of your child's calories should come from carbohydrates. Choose high fiber sources such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes.

Ages 2-9: Choose 1 ½-2 ½ cups of vegetables and 1-1 1/2 cups of fruit daily.
Ages 10 and up: Choose 2 ½-3 ½ cups of vegetables and 1 ½-2 ½ cups of fruit daily.

Aim for ½ cup of legumes at least 4 times weekly. Cook often with dried beans, peas or lentils. Legumes are a powerhouse of heart-protective nutrients, including potassium, fiber, protein, iron, and the B vitamins.

Limit added sugars (regular soda pop, juices and juice drinks, sweets, low fiber, high-sugar and fat-free foods) to less than 1 serving/week.

Limit processed foods/snack foods such as chips, cookies, donuts, hot dogs, bologna, and convenience foods. Look for foods labeled “Trans Fatty Acid Free” or “Trans Free.”

Limit intake of egg yolk to less than 3 times a week. Use egg substitute or 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg.

Limit fast food to less than 1 time a week. Choose wisely when eating out:

  • Always choose from the children's menu.
  • Have a side salad with light dressing such as light Italian or vinaigrette or a cup of broth- based soup instead of fries.
  • Choose a calorie-free beverage such as decaffeinated iced tea with sweetener, or lemon water.
  • Avoid added fats such as cheese, mayonnaise, high-fat dressing/sauces, and fried foods.
2. Exercise regularly

Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes on most days by playing outside with friends, helping with household chores, taking the dog for a walk, or yard work.

3. Maintain a healthy weight

Ensure that your child's weight is appropriate for height by monitoring his or her growth plotted on a growth chart for weight in relation to height. Your registered dietitian can assist you with determining your child's percent growth for age.

This guide provides basic information to help your child start lowering cholesterol until his/her appointment with a Registered Dietitian, the nutrition expert. These guidelines can be tailored to meet your child's specific needs through in-depth nutrition education provided by a registered dietitian to assist in developing healthy eating habits.

© Copyright 1995-2009 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 2/15/2009…#6847