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More Fruit and Veggies Now, Better Arteries Later

Children Who Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables Less Likely to Have Stiff Arteries as Adults
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How to Get Kids to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

If new scientific evidence about hardened arteries is a hard sell for your kids, the American Heart Association recommends the following tips to get children to eat more fruits and vegetables:

  1. Make fruit and vegetable shopping fun. Involve children in shopping and selecting ripe fruits and vegetables at your local green market or grocery store. Explain which fruits and vegetables are available each season and from which climates.
  2. Involve kids in meal preparation. Invite children to help you prepare a healthy dish. Younger kids can measure, crumble, hold, and hand some of the ingredients to you while older kids can help set the table. Offer lots of praise for what they've done.
  3. Be a role model. If your child sees you eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables, they'll be more likely to follow suit.
  4. Create fun snacks. Make healthy snacks a part of their routine. Kids love foods they can eat with their fingers; healthy options include cut-up fruit or vegetables arranged on a pretty plate with a small portion of low-fat salad dressing, hummus, or yogurt.
  5. Give kids healthy choices, within limits. Too many choices can overwhelm young children. Rather than asking, "What would you like for dinner?" Offer them healthy choices like strawberries or banana on their cereal or carrots or broccoli with dinner.
  6. Eat together as a family. Family dining time offers adults a chance to model healthy behaviors and attitudes about food.
  7. Expect resistance. Kids will be exposed to negative influences about food. Without making disparaging remarks about other families' habits, let your kids know that fruits and vegetables come first in your family.
  8. Grow it. Create a kitchen window garden and let your child plant tomatoes and herbs in window boxes. Or if you have space for a garden, help them cultivate their own vegetable patch with plants that grow quickly, like beans, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, and radishes.
  9. Resort to covert operations when necessary. If all else fails, sneak pureed or grated vegetables into pastas, pizza sauces, and casseroles.
  10. Be patient. Changes in food preferences take time to happen. Many kids need to see and taste a new food a dozen times before they know whether they truly like it. Try putting a small amount of the new food on their plate every day for two weeks but don't make a big deal about it.

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