Healthy Heart: Kids Smart Start

By Suzanne Proulx

February 5, 2013 Updated Feb 5, 2013 at 11:52 AM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) Being heart healthy isn't just important for adults, and most heart problems could be prevent by being heart healthy as a child.

Did you know artery plaque buildup begins in childhood? It's true! Weis Markets Registered Dietitian Beth Stark shares ways to make your kids heart healthy from the start.

No one is ever too young to practice heart-healthy behaviors. When fatty deposits collect in the arteries from poor eating habits, lack of exercise, being at an unhealthy weight and family history, risk for high cholesterol and blood pressure and heart disease increases.

What can parents do?
First, make heart-healthy eating FUN!
-Pair crunchy veggies with guacamole made from heart-healthy avocados, fresh salsa or hummus. Or try fresh fruit with Greek yogurt or peanut butter. Kids love to dip!

-Use whole wheat tortillas to make sandwich triangles, stuff pita pockets or use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches on whole wheat bread into silly shapes.

-Or let them build their own trail mix with whole-grain cereal, dried fruit and unsalted nuts! There are lots of tasty combinations and it's a smart snack choice over packaged chips, cookies or candy.

What if you have a picky eater?
Picky eaters are more likely to try unfamiliar, wholesome foods when they've helped prepare them-so get 'em in the kitchen! It's also a fun way to spend quality time together and it sharpens their math and reading skills.

What about exercise?
An inactive lifestyle is a big risk factor for heart disease-even in kids. Fortunately it's an easy one to control! Engage your kids in fun activities that get them moving and limit screen time to less than two hours per day. And make exercise exciting for the entire family! After all, kids and adults benefit from moving more!

And parents should act as a role model too, right?
Exactly! Kids are highly influenced by the behaviors of adults around them. Make heart smart choices for the good of your heart and theirs!

For more heart healthy tips pick up volume 59 of the Healthy Bites magazine at all Weis Markets stores and online at Weis Markets

Healthy Heart 2012 is sponsored by the American Heart Association, United Health Services, Cornell Cooperative Extension, all Weis Markets, and WBNG-TV.

You can always call the American Heart Association at (607) 723-0208.

For medical questions, you can call UHS Nurse Direct at (607) 763-5555, or toll free at 1-800-295-8088.