If you have been paying attention to the news this week, you know that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) made the headlines Monday, January 31st. My entire profession is based on these guidelines, so it has been on my mind (and in all my media interviews) this week. This week also kicks off Heart Month via my friends at the American Heart Association. The combo of heart health, 2 year olds and the DGA is the point here. Why 2 year olds? It is because my youngest baby will turn 2 at the end of this month and it is coincidence that I have been shooting my mouth off this week about the DGAs and that the DGAs are directed to all Americans aged 2 and older. So my baby suddenly falls in this category of “heart health”. So often (so, so often), I hear from parents of young children that kids are so young and active that they can “burn off” any foods they eat. This includes sugary foods, such as candy, soda, fruit snacks (you know what I am talking about if you are a parent!), chips, crackers, chicken fingers, French fries, cookies, etc. You know what? Obesity is now being tracked in late infancy and in toddlers (aged 2 and 3). What? Is it possible that our youngest children are consuming more calories than they are “burning off” and it is causing them to gain more weight than is necessary for their age? Yes, my friends, this is what is happening. Heart disease also starts at an early age. Bear with me here (I get teary too): when autopsies are complete on our very young children who passed from car accidents, you know that plaque is found in the vulnerable arteries of their young hearts? Is this from stress, age, smoking or lack of activity? NO, my friends, it is from a diet high is sat fat. That is… saturated fat or trans-fat found in: ice cream, butter, whole milk, whole milk cheese, bacon, sausage, fried foods, donuts, butter crackers, pork or beef ribs, juicy hamburgers, cheese crackers, etc., etc, etc. Any foods that leave a layer of solid fat at room temperature=a layer of sat fat. What is a parent to do? Listen, as parents, when we feed our youngest children, we are not only nourishing their bodies and brains, but we are teaching them that this is how we eat for life. Some kids are “thinner” than others and need calories for growth and gain. What foods are best? Go for the foods that are high in liquid fat: avocadoes, nuts and seeds of all kinds (not including kids with allergies, here), salmon, salmon, and wild salmon, sardines (throw them in your spaghetti sauce), anchovies, tuna, olives, olive oil, olive tapenade, canola oil and other plant oils. Are you getting that plant fats are better for our kid’s hearts than animal fats? Still give them LEAN protein foods: chicken breast, pork tenderloin, beef (90% or more lean), buffalo, venison, shellfish (all baked, grilled and NOT BATTERED AND FRIED). The less fried foods for our kids, the better. Whole grains, such as oatmeal (not instant sugary flavored), whole wheat pasta, quinoa, etc. and fruits and veggies offered with every meal and snack. Many people think that “heart health” is for folks over (fill in the blank)!, but heart disease build up can start by age 3….wow! Change today…..