How to Lower Cholesterol in Children?
Too much cholesterol causes fatty deposits, also known as plaque, to build up in your arteries, which blocks the flow of blood to and from the heart. This can lead to heart disease and other serious complications. Children with high cholesterol are more at risk for these sorts of health issues. Read on to find out more about what causes high cholesterol, treatment options, and how you can augment your, and your child’s, lifestyle to improve their health and lower their risk factors.
What Is “Good Cholesterol?”
To understand the causes of high cholesterol in children, we must first know the difference between good and bad cholesterol. LDL, or low-density lipoproteins, is the bad cholesterol. Diet can contribute to high LDL levels, but some children are born with naturally higher levels of LDL. HDL, high-density lipoproteins, is the good cholesterol. High HDL levels limit the production of LDL and help protect against heart disease. HDL levels can be increased via diet and exercise.
Causes of High Cholesterol
- Heredity: One of the most common causes of high cholesterol at a young age is heredity. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you get your child’s cholesterol levels checked if there is a history of heart disease in your family, or if a parent has high cholesterol. A simple blood test is all that is required.
- Diet and Obesity: Foods that are high in trans fat and saturated fats contribute to the production of LDL, or “bad cholesterol.” By limiting your child’s intake of such foods, you can decrease LDL levels. Adding exercise to your weekly routine can contribute to increased HDL levels, or “good cholesterol.” This will also combat the production of LDL, and decrease your child’s risk of heart disease and stroke.
Treating High Cholesterol
The first choice in treating high cholesterol in children is diet and exercise. Promote a healthy lifestyle for your child by offering a range of healthy food options, including low-fat proteins, whole grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid foods that are high in trans fats, found in many processed and fried foods, and saturated fats, such as meat, chips, and cookies. It is especially important in this day and age to limit screen time, and try to get outside! Set aside time to get moving: go for a walk, a family bike ride, or a scenic hike. Make positive choices for you, and your whole family to encourage HDL production and reduce your child’s risk of heart disease. If these lifestyle changes are not enough, you can talk to your doctor about medicinal options that are available to you.