Could participating in Meatless Monday give your child a lifetime of heart health?
According to the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, children who eat lots of fruits and vegetables have healthier hearts than children who eat fewer fruits and veggies.
This study looked surveys completed by Finnish children and their parents over a period of 27 years and compared the results of arterial stiffness testing in participants.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), arterial stiffness is linked to atherosclerosis, or blocked arteries. It can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
This condition usually begins in childhood and worsens with age.
The Finnish study found that:
• Adults who ate fewer vegetables as children had increased arterial stiffness.
• People who consistently ate more fruits and vegetables throughout their childhood and into adulthood had 6% less arterial stiffness than those who ate fewer fruits and vegetables.
• Low fruit and vegetable consumption in childhood had a direct impact on the arterial stiffness observed in adulthood.
This study also took other lifestyle factors into account, such as physical activity and the use of butter, alcohol and cigarettes.
“Parents and pediatricians have yet another reason to encourage children to consume high amounts of fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Mika Kahonen, the senior author of this study.
To increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that your children are eating, the AHA recommends:
• Eating a variety fruits and veggies in front of your children.
• Shopping for groceries and preparing meals with your children.
• Growing your own fruits and vegetables.
• Incorporating shredded or pureed fruits and veggies into your child’s favorite dishes.
Taking part in Meatless Monday is also a great opportunity to encourage your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables and give them a lifetime of heart health.