Heart attacks are rare among teenagers, but it may surprise you to know that for some adolescents the stage is already set for future trouble. Many of our teenagers already have the beginnings of hardening of their arteries. The problem is their diets – much too high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Hamburgers, french fries, chocolate shakes – all the staples of the typical teenager. This is what raises blood cholesterol levels leading to hardening of the arteries. What can you do? You can set the proper example at home. Cut down on eggs to no more than three per week. Switch from whole to low-fat or skim milk. Serve more fish and skinless poultry and less fatty red meats. Encourage whole grains, pasta, fruits and vegetables. Someday, your teenager will thank you for all this, but maybe not now. The time to start is now.
Dr. Alvin Eden is chairman of the department of pediatrics at Wyckoff Heights Hospital in Brooklyn and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Cornell University Medical Center. Dr. Eden has authored several books including “Positive Parenting” and “Healthy Kids”.