By now you’re aiming to get 60 minutes of activity every day, right? Awesome! Now let’s learn another important step to a healthy heart.
Eating healthy foods is one of the most important ways to keep your heart working at its best. Choose foods that help you keep your heart — and the rest of your body — in top shape.
Keep your weight in balance by matching the amount of energy you put in (the calories you eat and drink) with the amount of energy you put out or need for the activities you do each day.
What can you do to eat heart healthy?Look for foods and drinks that are good for your heart. They should be low in salt and added sugars, and limited in the types of fat that harm your heart. If you eat calories from foods that have unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats) or foods that are high in added sugars and sodium, you could be hurting your heart.
Learn to read Nutrition Facts labels. A serving is the amount of food or beverage the label describes. You should usually eat ONE serving during a single meal or snack. The label will also tell you how many servings are in the package. If the label says there are two servings in the package, eat half or share it with a friend.
Limit foods that have high amounts of certain nutrients. If the label says the food has lots of unhealthy fats (like saturated and trans fats) try a healthier option. Limit foods that are high in sodium and sugar, or are higher in calories than similar foods or beverages. Compare labels on different foods to find the best option.
Here’s a quick list of healthy eating tips. Go over this list with your parent or another trusted adult to see if they’ll help support your plans to eat healthier. Together, you can adapt the list to your cultural or food preferences.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Choose whole-grain foods which can be a good source of dietary fiber.
- Eat fish, especially oily fish (for example salmon, trout, herring), at least twice a week.
- Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats.
- Limit the amount of red meat you eat and choose lean meats and poultry. There are also many meat-free alternatives to get protein.
- Select fat-free (skim), 1%-fat and low-fat dairy products.
- Limit your intake of beverages and foods with added sugars.
- Learn about sodium and the common foods that have too much of it.
- If you want to snack, go nuts! A serving size is a small handful or 1.5 ounces of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Keep track of what you eat.Write down everything you eat and drink for a few days. You can spot your good habits (such as eating three daily meals, choosing healthy snacks, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables) and your bad habits (such as snacking all day and drinking too many sugary drinks).
Use this food diary.
The following tips and questions can get you on your way to healthier eating:
- Ask your parent or guardian if you can help make the grocery list and go shopping.
- Invite a friend over and prepare a healthy meal together.
- What is one unhealthy eating habit you can swap for a healthy habit?
- Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Children
- The AHA's Recommendations for Physical Activity in Children
Last reviewed 8/2014