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 and saturated fat.

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 (without trans fats) , spray margarine, olive or canola oil
Regular cheese Low-fat or fat-free cheese
Creamer or half-and-half Light creamer or light half-and-half
Whole or 2% milk 1% or fat-free (skim) milk
Cream cheese Low-fat or fat-free cream cheese
Regular ice cream Fat-free or low-fat frozen yogurt or sorbet
2-4% milk-fat cottage cheese 1% or fat-free cottage cheese
Cream-based soups Broth-based soups
Creamy salad dressings Oil and vinegar or light salad dressings
Mayonnaise Light mayonnaise, mayo made with olive oil, nonfat Greek yogurt, mashed avocado
Prime grades of beef Choice or select grades of beef
Spareribs Tenderloin (with fat trimmed)
Ground beef Ground sirloin, ground round (choose 90-95% lean)
Chicken with skin on Baked or broiled chicken breasts without skin
Whole egg Egg whites or egg substitutes

Choose high fiber sources of carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes.

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

Ages 10 and up: Choose 2 ½-3 ½ cups of vegetables and 1 ½-2 ½ servings 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 Fat Free." Look for foods without “partially hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients list.

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.


  • American Heart Association. Children and Cholesterol Accessed 1/19/2015.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Cholesterol Levels in Children and Adolescents Accessed 1/19/2015.
  • Haney EM, Huffman LH, Bougatsos C, et al. Screening for Lipid Disorders in Children and Adolescents [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2007 Jul. (Evidence Syntheses, No. 47.) 1, Introduction. Available from: nlm.nih.gov Accessed 1/19/2015.

© Copyright 1995-2015 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

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: 1/16/2015…#6847