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Celebrate Heart Health Month with These Snacks and Activities for Kids

Feb 14, 2022

Authored by Emlerswim

February is American Heart Month. Nearly one in two adults in the U.S. have hypertension, or high blood pressure. While healthy habits can start at any age, sometimes it’s easier if they’re practiced during childhood, especially since high blood pressure in adolescents is linked to health problems later in life.

To teach your children how to take care of their health, use these snacks and activities to emphasize how they’re not only eating yummy food or doing something fun, but they’re also helping take care of their hearts now and for their future selves.

Heart-Healthy Snacks

There’s a lot to choose from, even if your child is a picky eater. Food pallets can change over time, so be patient and know you’re doing the best you can, and that’s all you can ask of yourself.

  • Popcorn – it’s a whole grain. If your kiddo needs some flavor, try something like Boom Chica Pop’s Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn that’s flavorful without the butter.
  • Cucumbers or other raw vegetables like carrots, broccoli or cauliflower. Dip in hummus if you’d like some extra flavor. Same goes for cherry tomatoes.
  • Whole-grain toast with a nut butter
  • Trail mix without the chocolate
  • Plain nonfat or low-fat yogurt. Add some fruit if your little fishy wants some pizazz.

If you’re looking for something sweet, your go-to should be fruit in any form. Fruits are naturally full of sugar. Here are some ideas:

  • Frozen grapes – like a popsicle without all the added sugar
  • Frozen banana
  • Unsweetened dried fruit. Think raisins, figs or dates.
  • Canned fruit in natural juice
  • Apple slices, paired with a nut butter if you want some protein or your child isn’t ready to eat them by themselves.
  • Baked apple, maybe with a little cinnamon
  • Fruit salad (minus any marshmallows you might be tempted to include)

Heart-Healthy Drinks

It’s important to avoid sodas or any beverages high in sugar like sweetened tea. Here are some healthier options for your kiddo:

  • Water – an oldie but a goodie. Need more pop? Consider sugar-free sparkling water or adding some mint, cucumbers or lemon juice to plain water.
  • Non-fat milk or plain soymilk
  • Unsweetened herbal tea
  • A small glass of 100% juice – like most things in life, this one is best offered in moderation.

Heart-Healthy Activities

Any physical activity that increases your kid’s heart rate for a sustained period like 10-20 minutes helps keep the heart healthy. Consider doing things as a family – going on walks, bike rides, or swimming at the pool – and limiting your child’s screen time. Other options include dancing or marching to music or running through a homemade obstacle course or around the playground. If you can, aim for 60 minutes a day of exercise.

Sports like soccer and basketball are great to get a child’s heart pumping, but of course we love to point out the benefits of swimming. It’s not just a physical activity that uses the whole body – it’s also tied into safety and cognitive development.

Formal swim lessons result in an 88% reduction in drowning risk for children ages 1 to 4, according to the National Institutes of Health, and drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1 to 4 than any other cause except birth defects. Since swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning and check off the exercise box for the day, it’s an ideal activity to choose for kids. Plus, swimming provides advantages for your child’s brain too.

A study from Griffith University in Australia indicates that children who swim have many advantages when it’s time to start school.

“While we expected the children to show better physical development and perhaps be more confident through swimming, the results in literacy and numeracy really shocked us,” lead researcher Professor Robyn Jorgensen said. “The children were anywhere from six to 15 months ahead of the normal population when it came to cognitive skills, problem solving in mathematics, counting, language and following instructions.”

We hope we’ve given you some ways to incorporate heart-healthy habits in your kid’s life. Learn more about Emler Swim School’s award-winning curriculum by signing up for a virtual information session, held twice a day Monday through Thursday.