Clinical Hub,Patient Education,Health and Nutrition Facts For You,Nutrition

Heart Health for Kids: Low HDL (600)

Heart Health for Kids: Low HDL (600) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Nutrition


(High Density Lipoprotein)

Many things affect your child’s chances of
having heart and blood vessel disease as an
adult. Some of these risk factors, such as
family history, age, and gender, cannot be
changed. Some of the risk factors can be
changed, such as:
 Being overweight
 Tobacco use
 High blood pressure
 Low HDL cholesterol

Atherosclerosis, the build-up of cholesterol
in arteries, starts in children as young as 2
years of age. By making wise food and
activity choices now, your child can lower
the risk of these problems when they are
 A stroke caused by blockages in the
arteries that lead to the brain
 A heart attack caused by blockages
in the arteries around the heart
 Peripheral vascular disease caused
by blockages in arteries in the legs

Cholesterol is found in all cells. It is needed
for many body functions. Lipoproteins are
particles that carry cholesterol and other fats
throughout the blood. Two important
lipoproteins are HDL and LDL. HDL is the
“happy” or “good” cholesterol that removes
LDL (the “lousy” or “bad”) cholesterol from
the bloodstream.

If HDL is low, below 45 mg/dL in children,
it is a risk factor for heart disease, even if
your total cholesterol is less than 200
mg/dL. You have a lower risk for getting
coronary heart disease if your HDL is high.

To increase HDL “Healthy” levels:
 Be physically active daily
 Don’t use tobacco (cigarettes,
chewing tobacco)
 Lose weight if you are overweight
 Eat foods rich in monounsaturated
fat (see examples below)
 Eat foods rich in omega-3 fat (see
examples on next page)

Good Fats Found in Food

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated
fats can be found in olive oil, canola oil,
peanut oil, sesame oil, nuts, avocado and
olives. These fats can help to improve
cholesterol levels in the blood.

Omega-3 fat is the type of fat found in fatty
fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and
sardines. Some plant foods, such as
flaxseed, walnuts and canola oil also contain
a form of omega-3 fat. Omega-3 fat can help
lower triglycerides levels, raise HDL levels,
lower the stickiness of blood cells and lower
inflammation in the blood vessel wall.

To increase your Omega-3 intake:
 Eat fish at least 2 to 3 times per week
 Use walnuts as a snack or add
ground flaxseed to cereal

Your health care provider may recommend
fish oil supplements for your child.

Other Ways to Increase HDL
 Physical activity. Physical activity
raises HDL and lowers triglycerides.
It can also help with weight control
and lead to faster weight loss if
needed. Activities can be jogging,
walking, biking, dancing and
swimming. Children can play at a
park or outside with friends. Experts
say to aim for 60 minutes of
vigorous play or aerobic activity

 Limit Screen Time. It is advised to
limit screen time to no more than 2
hours daily for all children over 2
years of age. Screen time includes
phone, computers, video games and

Teach Back

What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?

What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?

If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the
phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.

Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s
Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.

Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 11/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the Department
of Nursing. HF#600