6 tips for packing your child a heart-healthy school lunch

Are you and your kids ready to go back to school? The American Heart Association is calling on parents to pack a heart-healthy lunch!

The American Heart Association recommends that children eat a variety of foods while consuming enough calories to support growth and development.

“Children and their families should eat foods that are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat, choose a wide range of foods to get enough carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients, and eat healthy meals that are appropriate for their height, size and activity. You need to eat enough calories to maintain your weight, says Dr. Samantha C. Rowe, pediatrician at White Plains Hospital Physician Associates.

A disturbing trend observed across the country is an increase in overweight and obese children, the organization said. It may increase the risk of factors, which are increasing in children and adolescents.

“Teaching children healthy eating habits now increases their chances of living a healthy life and helps reduce their chances of developing cardiovascular disease later in life.

Here are some tips from the American Heart Association to consider when preparing meals for your child.

1. Low fat

Choose foods that are naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fruits and vegetables. Most are naturally low in fat, calories and sodium and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.

2. Swap

Replace peanut butter with added sugar and oil with one made entirely from peanuts.

3. Red meat

Use red meat. Choose from fish, chicken, turkey, lean beef and pork.

4. Milk

Switch to non-fat milk. Gradually reduce the fat content of the milk your family drinks. Start with 2%, try 1%, and finally skim milk.

5. Bread

Replace white bread with wheat bread.

6. Hydration

Turn juice box or chocolate milk into water (infuse with fruit if you need a boost of flavor).

The American Heart Association says a nutritious, heart-healthy lunch combined with daily exercise helps prepare every child for a year of optimal learning and development.

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