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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 years or 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 they can make healthy food choices as adults.
It is important not to put children under the age of 2 years on a low fat diet unless advised by your child's physician. Children under the age of 2 years need fat in their diets to promote appropriate growth and development.
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:
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:
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 heart and cause damage.
The food guide pyramid is a guideline to help you and your child eat a healthy diet. The food guide pyramid 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 pyramid to guide parents in selecting foods for children 2 years and older.
The Food Pyramid is divided into six colored bands representing the five food groups plus oils:
Activity is also represented on the pyramid by the steps and the person climbing them, as a reminder of the importance of daily physical activity.
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 Food Pyramid and 2010 Dietary Guidelines sites. Please note that the Food Pyramid is designed for people over the age of 2 who do not have chronic health conditions.
Always consult your child’s physician regarding his/her healthy diet and exercise requirements.
Consider the following examples of food for healthier eating:
|Food Product Category||Eat Less||Eat More|
|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
|Eggs||Fried eggs in butter||Egg whites
|Dairy products||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- and orange-colored kinds, 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|