However, we tend to think that high cholesterol is a problem for adults or even the elderly. However, the truth is that cholesterol can also be a cause for concern in childhood, especially if there have been other people with this problem in the family. In fact, did you know that in Spain two out of ten children have higher cholesterol levels than would be healthy for their age?
Cholesterol is a substance produced by the liver, it is a lipid that our body manufactures and uses to promote the production of some hormones, to contribute to the formation of cell membranes and is part of vitamin D. In fact, cholesterol it is not harmful, it is necessary. For example, good cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins) is responsible for dragging bad cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins) out of the arteries. The problem starts when bad cholesterol levels skyrocket.
Many adults are already aware that they must check their cholesterol levels from time to time but 69% of Spanish parents admit that they have never measured the cholesterol level of their children. However, the ideal is that between the ages of 9 and 11 the child undergoes his first blood test to determine the level of cholesterol in the blood. Later, you will need another test at age 17.
Things change if there have been people with cholesterol problems in the family. In that case, the exam should be done at an earlier age, the first between 2 and 8 years old and the second at 12 years old.
The indicators that indicate that the child may have high cholesterol are:
- Parent or close relative with total cholesterol that exceeds 240 mg / dl
- Family history of cardiovascular disease
- The child is overweight, obese, has diabetes, or has high blood pressure
The usual thing is to perform a simple blood test, fasting . If the cholesterol level reaches 130 mg / dl then it is recommended that the child eat a healthier diet and engage in physical activity. After 3 or 6 months the exam will be repeated. If cholesterol levels continue to be high (above 190 mg / dl), from the age of 10 the doctor may indicate specific medications.
The good news is that cholesterol levels can be lowered by following a proper diet. In this way, you will also reduce the risk of other diseases and help your child to acquire good eating habits.
- Every day, the child should eat at least 100 grams of vegetables and a piece of fruit.
- Bet on whole grains, instead of choosing foods made with refined flour, since their high fiber content helps eliminate bad cholesterol.
- Eliminate saturated or trans fats from your diet, for which you should read food labels and always opt for skim products and fresh cheeses.
- Choose foods that are a source of unsaturated fats, such as fish, nuts, and olive oil. Between the ages of 1 and 3, these fats can represent 30-40% of the child’s diet, later, from the age of 4, they should be between 25-30%.
- Limit the consumption of drinks and foods rich in sugar, as well as convenience foods and industrial pastries.