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

Heart Health for Kids: Elevated LDL (601)

Heart Health for Kids: Elevated LDL (601) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Nutrition


Elevated LDL
(Low 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

If these risk factors are reduced during
childhood, the chances of future heart
problems can be decreased. 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 older:
 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 a substance 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. Increased LDL levels have been
found to increase the risk of heart and blood
vessel disease. LDL cholesterol can collect
in the arteries. This is why it is called
“lousy” cholesterol.

Some fat is needed for our body. It is a big
source of energy for muscles. It helps move
vitamins throughout your body. Fat is also
needed to make certain body tissues.

Even so, some blood fats can lead to a type
of heart and blood vessel disease called
atherosclerosis. This disease is a build up of
cholesterol, calcium, and blood clotting
factors in blood vessels. This buildup limits
blood flow, which can increase the risk of a
heart attack, stroke, leg pain or other

Food choices which tend to raise
LDL levels:
 Too much saturated and trans fats
(see below)
 Not enough fiber in the diet

To reduce your total LDL level:
 Increase your fiber intake
 Decrease saturated and trans fat
intake (see charts below about
specific food recommendations)

Saturated fats tend to raise blood
cholesterol levels. Eat less saturated fats
which are found in animal foods (fatty
meats, whole milk, butter) and tropical oils
(palm and coconut oil).

Trans fats are made when liquid vegetable
oils are hardened to make shortening or
margarine. They act like saturated fat by
raising your “lousy” LDL cholesterol. They
also decrease your “happy” HDL
cholesterol. Try to consume as little trans-fat
as possible.

Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods.
Eating 25-35 grams of dietary fiber per day
(with a focus on soluble fiber) can help
lower LDL by 3-5%. Soluble fiber is found
in fruits and vegetables, barley, corn, peas,
beans and oats.

To increase your fiber intake:
 Eat more fruits and vegetables (aim for at least 5 servings per day).
 Eat whole grain breads, pasta and cereals.
 Plan some meatless meals using beans or lentils as a protein source.

Plant sterols/stanols block cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestine. Consuming 2 grams
of plant sterols per day can reduce LDL levels by 10% or more.
Plant sterols are found in fortified margarine (Promise® Take Control®), yogurt (Supershots®)
and in plant sterol capsules.

Milk and Dairy Products

Recommended Not Recommended
Skim or 1% white milk Whole, 2% white milk
Low-fat/part-skim cheese: mozzarella, swiss,
famer’s cheese
Full-fat natural cheeses, any processed
Low-fat/non-fat frozen yogurt, sherbet, fruit sorbet Full-fat ice cream
Low-fat/non-fat sour cream Full-fat sour cream
Low-fat/non-fat cottage cheese or yogurt Full-fat cottage cheese or yogurt
Low-fat/non-fat cream substitutes Cream, half & half

Protein Foods

Recommended Not Recommended
Lean beef: lean ground beef (90/10 or
higher), top sirloin, tenderloin, rump, flank
Fatty beef: high-fat ground beef (80/20), T-
bone, prime rib
Lean pork: loin chop, tenderloin, ham Fatty pork: spare ribs, sausage
Turkey sausage or turkey bacon Pork sausage, bacon
Lean lunch meats Lunch meats with more than 3 grams fat/ounce
Baked or grilled chicken and fish Deep-fried meats and seafood
Eggs Egg prepared in butter
Vegetable/broth soups
Turkey/chicken hot dogs or bratwurst Regular hot dogs or bratwurst
Tofu, peanut butter, dried or canned beans,
lentils, hummus, nuts and seeds
High-fat meats listed above


Recommended Not Recommended
Margarine: soft tub or squeeze type
(with 0 grams trans fat), margarines
fortified with plant sterols
Butter, margarine with trans fat
Liquid oils: canola, olive, peanut,
sesame, sunflower, safflower, soybean,
cottonseed or flaxseed oils
Coconut and palm oils, lard, cream cheese, vegetable
shortening containing partially hydrogenated
vegetable oil
Oil-based salad dressings Creamy salad dressings
Mayonnaise and sandwich spreads
(light/reduced calorie)
Mayonnaise; full-fat

Other Ways to Reduce LDL
 Physical activity. Physical activity can strengthen the heart. 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 daily.
 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 TV.

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#601