A few years ago, Katie's grandmother had a mild heart attack. She spent some time in the hospital, and everyone was very worried about her -- including Katie. The doctor told Katie's family that her grandmother had been very lucky. The heart attack was kind of like a warning. Katie's grandmother had another chance. If she exercised and watched her diet carefully, she could look forward to many years of healthy life. Part of watching her diet meant cutting down on foods with cholesterol in them.
Cholesterol is a fatty material. The body uses it in many different chemical processes. But when too much cholesterol moves through the body in the blood, it can cause trouble.
To help her grandmother get better, Katie decided to find out about healthy heart habits. She went to the library and got out some books on health, and read about the heart. She read that it is a strong muscle that works like a pump to send blood through the body. The blood carries oxygen and food to the billions of cells that form the human body. Doctors call the heart and the network of blood vessels the cardiovascular system. "Cardio" means heart, and "vascular" means veins and arteries.
The heart beats constantly, even when people are sleeping. It's a hard-working organ, which is a good thing, since life depends on it. Medical researchers have found out that too much animal fat and cholesterol in the diet can damage the heart. In some people -- like Katie's grandmother -- cholesterol can gum up the cardiovascular system. It leaves deposits on the inside of the blood vessels, and makes them narrower than normal. This narrowing or blocking can cause chest pain. If the blockage gets serious enough, it can interfere with the flow of blood and oxygen in the heart itself, leading to a heart attack.
Egg yolks and organ meats, like liver, are very high in cholesterol. So Katie's grandmother's favorite breakfast of two fried eggs and a couple of sausages wasn't such a great idea. After her illness, she started eating a breakfast of cereal, fruit and low-fat milk.
When her grandmother spends the night at Katie's house, she gets a special treat. Katie makes her a healthy breakfast that's good for her heart. The recipes come from the "Children's Help Your Heart Cookbook" published by the American Heart Association.
She makes French toast -- enough for two so she can eat breakfast with her grandmother. She's careful to use egg whites only, and throws away the yolks. That cuts down the amount of cholesterol in the dish. Here is the recipe:
French Toast Serves 2
Get out these ingredients:
1 Tablespoon water
2 slices of bread
Corn oil margarine for browning.
Mix egg and water. Dip bread in mixture. Fry in corn oil margarine over low heat until brown. Turn and brown on the other side.
Katie serves her French toast with homemade pineapple syrup.
Pineapple Syrup Serves 2
Get out these ingredients:
One-half cup pineapple juice
2 Tablespoons corn oil margarine
Put pineapple juice and margarine in a pan and heat. Pour over French toast.
If you decide to try out these recipes at home, make sure you ask if you can use the kitchen, and get help using the stove if you need it.
Many experts think that learning to avoid foods that can cause cardiovascular problems many years later is a good idea. To keep the heart healthy, it's important to know about the rules of good nutrition. The science of nutrition concerns the foods we eat and how our bodies use them. Nutritionists recommend that we eat a variety of servings from the four main food groups every day. These groups are:
*Poultry and lean meats.
*Milk and milk products.
*Bread and cereals.
*Fruits and vegetables.
Katie's grandmother feels a lot better now. Katie does, too. She's glad her grandmother is recovering. She's also glad that she learned about good eating habits so early in her life. Tips for Parents
The American Heart Association distributes several publications aimed at kids, including the "Children's Help Your Heart Cookbook" and "Dr. Truso's Jet Powered Pedaller," a comic book about nutrition and exercise. The cookbook contains instructions on simple cooking techniques, as well as recipes for meals and snacks. Call the association's local offices at 337-6400 (D.C. Affiliate), 941-8500 (Northern Virginia Chapter) or 229-8100 (Montgomery County Chapter).