Six Nutritional Tips Every Parent Should Consider for their Children with Heart Disease

December 8, 2016

Children, in general, require a more special and well-thought out diet than an adult. Their bodies are changing every day, and this process requires a lot of energy. A well-balanced diet is essential for them to grow up strong and healthy since it provides them with the resources necessary for proper development. In the case of children with heart disease, there are a few extra concerns parents should bear in mind when considering their children’s dietary needs.

  1. Avoid Foods with A High Level of Sodium

Avoiding high quantities of salt is a good rule, regardless of whether or not you suffer from a heart condition. Excess salt in the blood tends to store up water, which in turn raises the volume of the blood in your veins, thus leading to increased blood pressure. The increased blood pressure can damage your blood vessels and puts more pressure on an already strained heart. You can usually find large amounts of salt in fast-food meals and junk food, so parents should avoid these types of treats as much as possible.

According to experts, children between 7 and 10 years old with hypertension should consume less than 1.500 mg of sodium a day. That means less than a teaspoon of salt, which contains roughly 2.300 mg of sodium.

  1. Replace Sugary Treats with Fruit

Beyond concerns about weight, numerous studies have shown that there is a link between a high level of sugar consumption and an increased risk of heart attacks. For children, the daily recommended dosage of sugar is around 2-3 teaspoons per day. Considering that a 12-ounce can of soda contains five times that amount, it essential that parents try and find healthier alternatives for sugary treats.  

Replacing such treats with fruit not only lowers the daily intake of sugar, but it also provides children with minerals and vitamins which are essential for healthy development.

  1. Encourage Them to Drink Plenty of Water

Water is essential for the body’s well-being. It promotes the elimination of excess sodium and helps detoxify the body. Adequate water consumption can be beneficial for children with weight issues since it decreases appetite. When determining how much water a child should drink on average, there are a number of different factors which should be considered, such as weight, height and age group.

Children ages 4 to 8 should have around 5 cups of water a day, while children between the ages of 8 and 13 should drink around 8 cups. During physical activities, experts recommend a child drink about a cup every half hour. Water and proper hydration has been said to reduce the chances of clots as well.

  1. Portion Food Well

Measuring food portions is a relatively simple task that can help immensely when it comes to having a healthy lifestyle. Parents can have more control over their children’s food intake, which in turn can help regulate body weight and appetite. Portioned food also tends to encourage a more systematic approach to meals.

Following a schedule when it comes to eating can ensure children receive the proper amount of nutrients they require on a daily basis while avoiding foods that can be harmful. Avoiding snacks during the day can help reduce cholesterol levels and promote fat burning.

  1. Don’t Avoid Every Type of Fat

Parents should keep their kids away from two types of fats: saturated fats and trans fats. The first category can usually be found in foods that come from animals, such as meat and dairy products. Trans fats usually appear in oils which have undergone partial hydrogenation, though trans fats can occur naturally in some foods in small quantities. However, some fats are beneficial, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and omega-3 fatty acids.

There are plenty of delicious foods which are rich in these kinds of fats. They can usually be found in fish, seeds, and vegetable oils. They can improve blood cholesterol levels and help regulate insulin. Not allowing them to eat any kind of fat, on the other hand, may lead to certain deficiencies.

  1. Keep Healthy Snacks Nearby

Healthy snacks, such as carrot sticks, apples, granola bars, or low-fat yogurts, can help keep children’s appetites in check while providing regular doses of vitamins and minerals. However, parents should be mindful of the ingredients used, since some snacks or fruits juices occasionally contain large amounts of sugar.

As long as parents follow their healthcare professional’s advice, and maintain healthy habits, there is absolutely no reason why a child suffering from heart disease cannot have a happy, normal childhood. It may require a bit more patience and caution to what they eat, but these will be learned through time. Hopefully, all these habits will ultimately remain with them throughout their life so they can maintain a healthy lifestyle and a healthy heart even as adults.

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