Adults aren't the only ones who deal with high cholesterol. This weekend I met Jason Myers. He is 14 years old and ever since he can remember, he was told he had high cholesterol. He joked that he got all the "bad stuff" from his dad, like allergies and high cholesterol and the "good stuff" from his mom, like being outgoing and positive. Either way, when Jason was two years old he was diagnosed with high cholesterol.
In July 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics made new recommendations for cholesterol screening in children. Screening is advised for kids with a family history of high cholesterol or blood fats, or a family history of premature heart disease (age 55 or younger for men, age 65 or younger for women). Screening is also recommended for kids who are overweight (at or above the 85th percentile), and with other risk factors such as smoking, diabetes or high blood pressure.
First screening is recommended after age 2, but no later than age 10. Children under age 2 should not be screened. If the fasting lipid profile is normal, a child should be screened again in three to five years.
That said, he is not the typical fourteen year old that one would assume has high cholesterol. He's lean, active and understands his condition so well that he makes himself breakfast each morning. He told me he is more aware of what he eats because of the disease. He also showed me how to make a morning spinach and feta omelette in the morning.
He starts with Egg Beaters, which he says he has used since he can remember because they don't have the cholesterol eggs have. He continues to better his recipe as he mentions how when he was out to breakfast just that morning the chef recommends to whip up the Egg Beaters in a blender to make them lighter and fluffier -- and it works. After the eggs are whipped, it's now time to lightly cook the spinach.
He showed me to cook the spinach with a light cooking spray until it begins to shine. Next pour in the whipped Egg Beaters and move the pan to get it evenly coated throughout the pan and to its edges. "Wait until the middle bubbles, then flip the omelette over" he says. "Then gently let it cook. Put the feta cheese only on half and then fold the top." It was a fun cooking morning to see such skill and confidence from a teenage boy. He might have a chef career ahead of him.
However, diet alone is not enough to control high cholesterol. Exercise for 20 minutes can help increase the "good" HDL cholesterol and lower the "bad" LDL levels. Also important is combing protein with carbohydrates and increasing the amount of fiber in one's diet to a minimum of 25 grams daily.
Andrea Metcalf is a healthy lifestyle blogger, fitness expert and author of 'Naked Fitness, a 28 Day Proven Weight Loss Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body' (Vanguard Press). She is creator and host of 'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is' reality weight loss show where people are Paid to Lose it.