7 Delicious Foods for Your Kid’s Heart
You may have read the news yesterday that blueberries and strawberries can lower your risk of heart disease by about a third. I thought the study—a joint effort between Harvard University and East Anglia University in England—was totally cool for two reasons: Researchers started tracking the women when they were young moms—25 to 42—while most other work of this kind has been done in older women, and blueberries and strawberries are my daughter’s two favorite foods. Seriously, Katie said to me a couple of weeks ago, “I like strawberries better than candy.” And knowing how much she loves candy, that’s a bold statement!
Last night, I sent a note to one of the study’s authors, Aedin Cassidy, Ph.D., from East Anglia University, asking whether she thought her results applied to kids as well as moms. She responded right away: “This is a very interesting question,” she wrote. “We don’t have data on kids but if you extrapolate from our study, it’s likely that a healthy diet in childhood will also play out to a reduced risk of heart disease later in life.” That’s good enough for me. High cholesterol and high blood pressure, two big-time risk factors for heart disease, are becoming increasingly common in kids. One study published last year found that 24,000 children received treatment for elevated BP in 2006—double that compared to a decade before.
Dr. Cassidy also added that besides the strawberries and blueberries that got all the attention on the news yesterday, eggplant, plums, red cabbage, and other berries (like cranberries and raspberries) are also rich in pigments called anthocyanins that help lower the risk of heart disease and keep blood pressure in check. I’ve found some great recipes for each of them. Dig in!
* Eggplant: Watch Disney’s Ratatouille, then make this pasta and eggplant dish.
* Plums: This plum pizza with feta cheese is a great way to work fruit into dinner.
* Red cabbage: Try this recipe for apple and cabbage baby food. For older kids, slip shredded cabbage into sandwiches—they’ll probably like it better than lettuce.
* Raspberries: Whip up a healthy raspberry sauce to top whole-grain pancakes and waffles.