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Healthy Snacks for Kids Mean Healthy-Hearted Adults

Healthy Snacks for Kids Mean Healthy-Hearted Adults

Sweet tangerines and juicy cherries. Crunchy carrots and crisp snow peas. Pack them in kids' lunches, put a bowlful on the kitchen counter, keep them front and center in the fridge. Enticing kids to munch more fruits and veggies is smart for reasons you can probably recite faster than your phone number (teeth, weight, skin, bones, immune system). Here's a new one: healthier hearts when your kids have grown up.

Children who eat produce nearly every day develop arteries that are more flexible (researchers tracked people for 27 years to prove this; they did other things, too). Having arteries that resemble bendy straws is a good thing; stiff arteries make your heart work harder, and clogs are more likely.

If your kids are about as interested in broccoli and eggplant as in math homework (in other words, NOT), these parent-tested strategies can boost the produce quotient without a food fight:

  • Eat them yourself. When parents eat their veggies, kids do, too. They're hard-wired to mimic what you do: Monkey see, monkey do.
  • Keep on offering them. Pack red pepper strips or broccoli in lunches. Add sliced kiwi or mango. If they come home untouched, don't flip out. Just do it again and again. It can take 10 to 15 "introductions" for a youngster to try—and like—a new food.
  • Invite a friend of your child's over who likes veggies—your guy may model the friend's behavior.
  • Don't force the issue. High-pressure tactics make dinnertime a downer and can turn your child off to the brussels sprouts you've finally learned to love.

Learn how to live with—and feed—a picky eater.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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