3 Oct 2022 | 6 min Read
Author | 759 Articles
Did you know that an unhealthy diet filled with refined foods and sugars can put your little one at risk of long-term cardiovascular diseases? It can also put them at risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. This is why you should pay special attention to your child’s diet from an early age and encourage them to consume heart-healthy foods regularly to boost their cardiovascular health and immunity.
Heart-healthy foods are enriched with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that offer cardioprotective effects and help maintain cholesterol and blood pressure levels. They also lower the risk of other lifestyle diseases and help promote good gut and digestive health in toddlers.
In this post, we have listed some of the best heart-healthy foods that you can add to your toddler’s meals to enhance their diet quality and most importantly improve their heart health.
Green leafy veggies like kale, spinach, and collard greens are enriched with essential nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. They are also high in dietary nitrates, which lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of arterial stiffness, and improve the functions of cells that line the blood vessels.
Additionally, green veggies are a great source of vitamin K, which is essential in protecting arteries and promoting proper blood clotting. You can encourage your child to consume a cup or two of fresh veggies every day to enjoy optimum benefits from its nutrients.
Whole grains are nutrient-packed that reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in children and adults. Multiple studies have shown that eating two or more servings of whole grains daily can lower the risk of heart disease by 22%. Popular whole grain foods that you can include in your toddler’s diet are:
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats that enhance heart health and reduce cholesterol levels. It also helps in weight management and boosts immunity. You can prepare avocado smoothies, salads, and dips for your child, and also use the fruit’s pulp as a replacement for saturated fats in recipes.
Berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are enriched with antioxidants and nutrients that play a central role in promoting heart health. They also protect against oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to the risk of heart diseases. In addition to improving heart health, berries also boost the physical and cognitive health of your child.
You can add berries to your child’s tiffin or salad, or give them these fruits as a snack. Berries add colour to meals that toddlers can’t resist.
Fatty fish like tuna, sardines, and salmon are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which offer extensive health benefits, including promoting good heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids also play a vital role in preventing adverse cardiovascular events like arrhythmias.
Fish oil also offers multiple benefits, such as improving arterial function and reducing the risk of hypertension. If your toddler isn’t fond of seafood, you can supplement them with fish oil once or twice a week.
Beans provide a considerable amount of micronutrients like iron and folate, protein, dietary fibre, and PUFA. These nutrients are foundational to enhancing heart health and help reduce blood pressure and inflammation. Additionally, beans work as a prebiotic and promote good bacteria in the gut.
You can provide one or two servings of beans to your toddler in the form of dal or curry.
Walnuts are excellent sources of micronutrients like magnesium, manganese, copper, and dietary fibre. These nutrients are vital for heart health, and incorporating a few servings of walnuts into your child’s diet can protect them against lifestyle and cardiovascular diseases. You can add walnuts to salads, or even offer them as a snack to your toddler.
Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants like flavonoids that promote heart health. Moderate servings of it can also reduce the risk of diabetes and high cholesterol. However, since certain types of dark chocolates can be high in sugar and calories, ensure to discuss their servings with your child’s paediatrician and try to supplement them by giving them other healthy foods like walnuts and fruits.
Almonds are nutrient-dense and boast a long list of vitamins and minerals that are crucial for heart health. They are also a good source of monounsaturated fats and fibre, both key nutrients that protect against heart diseases.
In addition to this, almonds have a powerful effect on cholesterol levels and work exceptionally well in managing concerns like hypertension. You can add almonds to your child’s snack box or a topping in their yoghurt bowl.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a natural plant pigment, offering powerful antioxidant properties. And as you know, antioxidants neutralise free radicals, prevent oxidative stress, and reduce inflammation, which is one of the biggest contributors to heart disease. They also have a positive effect on your child’s blood lipid and blood pressure.
There are many ways to prepare tomatoes. You can either add them to curries, salads, pasta sauce, dips, and dips and also make tomato and cheese skewers for your child.
Flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are good sources of heart-healthy nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. They also reduce inflammation and cholesterol levels in children and boost overall health and immunity. You can include seeds and nuts in various recipes to help add texture and flavour and make them more appealing for your toddler.
Heart diseases can occur at any age, and thus you should encourage your child to consume heart-healthy foods from an early age. These foods are loaded with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that lower the risk of cardiovascular events in toddlers and boost their overall strength and immunity.
Suggestions offered by doctors on BabyChakra are of advisory nature i.e., for educational and informational purposes only. Content posted on, created for, or compiled by BabyChakra is not intended or designed to replace your doctor's independent judgment about any symptom, condition, or the appropriateness or risks of a procedure or treatment for a given person.