What food choices can help cholesterol and are safe and effective in children?
If your child has high cholesterol, then the guidelines recommend a “CHILD-1” eating pattern to start out. It includes:
- Less than 30% of calories should come from fat, with <7% coming from saturated fat sources
- The remainder of fat in the diet should come from mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fat sources
- Avoid trans fats
- 50-55% of calories should come from carbohydrates
- 15-20% of calories should come from protein
- Intake of dietary cholesterol should total 300mg or less per day
- Avoid sodium and avoid foods high in salt
- Eat fruits and vegetables
- Increase fiber intake (the grams of fiber today should equal the child’s age in years + five grams, up to 14 grams/day)
- Consider supplementing vitamin D
- Fat free milk only after age 2.
- Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages (limit juice to 4 ounces per day of 100% fruit juice only)
- Encourage water intake
A tip on calculating these amounts: Ask your healthcare provider for the total recommended calories your child should get per day. This will depend on how active your child is, as well as their age and current health status. Calculating the appropriate amounts of nutrients can feel like a challenge. Many families choose to seek a nutritionist’s help (a registered dietitian).
For other websites with information about healthy eating in kids, see: Eating Right
What if the Child-1 approach doesn’t help?
If the Child-1 eating pattern is not successful, the guidelines recommend a CHILD-2 eating pattern, which is dependent on which portion of the cholesterol is still high.
A nutritionist is highly recommended in the guidelines if your child’s cholesterol does not improve after trying Child-1.