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Information from Your Family Doctor

Diet Tips for Children with High Blood Cholesterol


Am Fam Physician. 2000 Feb 1;61(3):685-686.

  See related article on children with hypercholesterolemia.

What is high blood cholesterol?

High blood cholesterol, also called hypercholesterolemia, is an unhealthy level of cholesterol in the blood. Having high levels of blood cholesterol can cause your child to have heart problems when he or she gets older. But there are changes you can make in your child's diet now to lower the blood cholesterol.

How can I help my child eat right?

The first step to reducing cholesterol levels is to follow the “step 1” diet of the American Heart Association. This diet is low in cholesterol and saturated fat and high in complex carbohydrates. It provides energy and protein for normal activity and growth.

What are some examples of good foods?


The first meal of the day is a good time to give your child foods that are high in fiber, such as cereals and whole-grain breads. Fruits, juices, cheeses and yogurt are also good. Use skim or low-fat milk rather than whole or 2% milk.


Use whole-grain breads and rolls to make a better sandwich. Whole grains increase the total fiber in your child's diet. Give your child whole-grain crackers with soups, chili and stew, and always serve fresh fruit (with the skin) with meals.

Here are some ways to make healthier sandwiches:

  • Use low-fat or fat-free lunch meats. They are good in sandwiches or cut into strips on top of a salad.

  • Put leftover chicken or turkey strips in a tortilla to make a cold fajita (add strips of raw red and green peppers and onions). Use fat-free sour cream as a dressing.

  • Stuff a pita-bread “pocket” with vegetables, fat-free cheese and bits of leftover grilled chicken.

  • Cut up vegetables such as onion, carrot, celery and green peppers to add to tuna salad. Mix vegetables and water-packed tuna with fat-free mayonnaise or, for a different taste, mix with a fat-free salad dressing.

  • Chunky bits of leftover chicken mixed with fat-free mayonnaise, raisins, shredded carrots and sliced almonds is a great chicken salad. Serve it in a pita-bread pocket. Top it with salsa for a Southwestern flavor.

  • Mix cranberry sauce and fat-free mayonnaise to add to a turkey sandwich.

  • Put natural peanut butter together with an all-fruit jelly for an old favorite.

  • Sliced ham and low-fat or fat-free cheese with honey mustard is great on rye bread.

  • Low-fat cheese makes a good sandwich with tomato slices and mustard or fat-free mayonnaise on a roll.

  • Slice leftover pork tenderloin and top with barbecue sauce for a hot or cold sandwich.

  • Make grilled-cheese sandwiches with low-fat or fat-free cheese and serve them with raw carrot and celery sticks.

What snacks are good for my child?

Fruits, vegetables, breads and cereals also make great snacks for children. Here are some ideas for ways to serve these foods to your kids:

Fruits (Bite-size pieces of fruit look good to kids):

Fruit bits stirred into nonfat yogurt




Pineapple chunks

Orange or grapefruit sections

Bananas cooked lightly in apple juice

Apple slices with natural peanut butter

Dried fruit mixes


Baked potato with low-fat cheese sprinkled on top

Carrot sticks

Celery sticks with natural peanut butter

Raw broccoli and cauliflower florets with a low-fat dip or salsa


Cheese: use 1% fat or fat-free cottage cheese or ricotta cheese

Water-packed tuna mixed with fat-free mayonnaise on top of celery sticks or low-fat crackers

Yogurts: use fat-free yogurt. Try topping it with sunflower seeds, chopped dried fruit or a spoonful of oat bran


Low-fat cereals or cereal bars

Sweets and desserts:

Fat-free frozen yogurt

Juice bars

Sherbet and sorbet

Other snacks:

Popcorn: use “lite” or nonfat versions (try sprinkling popped corn with a little garlic, onion or chili powder)

Rice cakes

Low-fat pretzels

Roasted peanuts in the shell

Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds

Fat-free or baked potato chips

Bagels and low-fat bagel chips

Low-fat breadsticks

Low-fat pita chips


Maple syrup or fruit syrups make good toppings for fat-free yogurt

Pizza made with fat-free cheese

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2000 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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