Thursday, December 23, 2010

Heart Healthy Snacks for Kids and Adults

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says we should eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium (salt) a day. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the same thing. But Americans, on average, are eating 4,000 milligrams of salt a day, and much of it comes from restaurant meals, frozen meals, and canned food.

Salt is an acquired taste and the more salt kids eat the more they want. This concerns health experts because salt is one of the major causes of high blood pressure and pre-high blood pressure.

Kids get really hungry between meals. All too often, kids snack on high-sugar, high-salt, and high-fat foods. They eat these snacks because they are available. Similarly, kids will eat healthy snacks if they are available. Kids will enjoy healthy snacks if you involve them in preparation. You may want to make Saturday your "official" snack preparation day.

Young children can wash grapes, bag them in zipper snack bags, and pop them in the freezer. Kids will enjoy making pure fruit juice ice pops as well. Older kids may assemble the ingredients for individual pizzas and note the baking directions on a recipe card. The last thing you can do to promote healthy snacks is to store them at a reachable height. These snacks will quell kids' hunger and tide them over until the next meal.

* Crisp apple wedges (Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Braeburn are especially good.)

* Frozen red and green grapes

* Individual pizzas made with whole wheat English muffins, salt-free tomato sauce, dried oregano, and low-fat mozzarella cheese

* Fat-free, sugar-free yogurt (Divide into two servings for young children.)

* Orange fruit smoothie made with fresh orange juice, ice cubes, and fat-free, sugar-free vanilla yogurt

* Fruit ka-bobs (pineapple chunks, sliced bananas, and seedless grapes)

* Baby carrots, celery, and broccoli with low-fat vegetable cream cheese (Thin the cheese with a little fat-free milk.)

* Dried apples, apricots, pears, and raisins

* Unsweetened applesauce

* Homemade trail mix (unsalted peanuts, raisins, and a few chocolate chips)

* Plain popcorn with chopped dried fruit

* Fritatta squares made with egg substitute, low-fat cheese, and a few bacon crumbles

* Low-fat peanut butter and sugar-free jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread

* Low-fat cheese on salt-free crackers

* Low-fat cheddar and a dollop of chutney on salt-free crackers

* 1% cottage cheese with fresh or frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches)

* Pure fruit juice ice pops

* Drained and chilled Mandarin oranges in plastic zipper snack bags

* Flavored water

The last way to promote healthy snacks is to take kids grocery shopping. Let them choose the fresh fruits and veggies they enjoy best. Ask kids to read food labels, too, especially the sugar content, salt content, and serving size. Get on the heart healthy path and enjoy these snacks with your kids.

Copyright 2006 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. Another review is posted on the American Hospice Foundation Website under the "School Corner" heading.

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