Westbury Pediatrics

Dr. Fred Piaser

Our Office


Longevity and Diet

Related Links

Parent and Child


Contacting Us

Member Login

CHOLESTEROL   We all have read a lot about cholesterol. We read an article or listen to a news report and get confused. First we read that cholesterol is bad. Then we read that some cholesterol is good. Then we read that bran is good. Then we read that bran might not be that good. With all this information it is easy to become confused and loose the focus of what is important. The following is my understanding of what cholesterol is, when it's concerning, and how to protect your child from its harmful effects.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found naturally in animal tissue. The human body uses cholesterol to build cells, manufacture hormones and help digest foods. The liver produces all the cholesterol the body needs. Cholesterol in the blood also comes from foods that are high in saturated (animal) fat and cholesterol itself. If you eat a diet too high in these foods, you may develop excess cholesterol in the blood. Also, if you have an inherited tendency to accumulate cholesterol, you may have an elevated cholesterol. Why is this bad? Through a process called atherosclerosis, fatty deposits build up along the walls of arteries, blocking normal blood flow. Decreased blood flow to the heart causes angina pectoris or chest pain. When a cholesterol plaque completely blocks blood flow, a heart attack results. Stroke results from blockage of an artery leading to the brain. Intermittent claudication is cramping leg pain caused by impaired circulation to the legs.

You might ask, what does this have to do with my child? The above list of diseases are those of adulthood. First, the start of atherosclerotic changes may occur earlier then we suspect. High blood cholesterol is a major contributor to heart disease, the number one cause of death in this country. The changes in coronary vessels occur over a long period. It may start as early as in childhood. Second, eating a healthier diet in childhood will establish good habits for proper eating throughout your child's life.

When should you test your child for high cholesterol? There is no reason to test before the age of two years. I recommend testing in children over ten years old. I test sooner when a family member has had a history of early heart disease (onset before age 55). A family member is a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle. If either you or your child has high blood pressure, diabetes or is overweight, I will test sooner. Adults should have total cholesterol less than 200 milligrams. Between 200 and 240 is borderline. In children less than 17 years old, I would like to see levels below 170. Some studies suggest that levels above 180 will result in increased risk of high cholesterol levels in adulthood. Ideally, your child should fast from the night before to get an accurate result.

What should you do if your child has high cholesterol? The treatment of choice is diet modification. Avoid foods that are rich in cholesterol and saturated fats. Eat fish, poultry without skin, and lean cuts of red meats. Avoid organ meats, hot dogs, bacon, sardines, or fatty cuts of meat. Drink or eat nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheeses, as well as sherbet or sorbet. Avoid whole milk, cream cheese, sour cream, or ice cream. Egg whites are fine but avoid the yolks. Choose fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables. Avoid preparing these foods in butter, cream or other sauces. Cook using unsaturated oils sparingly. Rice, pasta, whole-grain breads and cereals are good choices. Avoid commercial baked goods, pies, cakes, doughnuts, croissants, pastries, muffins, biscuits, and egg noodles. When preparing foods, avoid cooking with butter, lard, chicken fat, palm and coconut oils. These are foods with saturated fats. Cook sparingly with polyunsaturated fats such as safflower, sunflower, corn, sesame seed, and soybean. Mono-unsaturated fats such as olive, peanut or almond oils are also good choices.

If you wish additional shopping or cooking information please stop by the office. I have a lot of literature that may be helpful.

Copyright © 2010 Westbury Pediatrics
powered by RK.Net, Inc. Web Development & Content Management Systems