Low HDL 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:
- Poor food choices
- Low fitness/activity level
- 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 the following 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 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 developing 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 fats are found mostly in olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, nuts, avocado and olives. These can help to improve cholesterol levels.
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.
Spending too much time in front of a screen (phone, computer, video games, TV) takes away from active time in a child’s day. No more than 2 hours of daily screen time is recommended for all children over 2 years of age.
Fitness strengthens your heart. It also raises your HDL, lowers your triglycerides and helps with weight control. Activities can be jogging, walking, biking, dancing and swimming. Children can play at the park or play outside with friends. Experts say to aim for 60 minutes of vigorous play or aerobic activity daily.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/28/2013
Copyright © 08/26/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7544
Print Health Fact For You