SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WETM) – As we head into the prime of back-to-school season, the American Heart Association is providing some tips to help parents plan healthy school lunches for their children.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is a major cause of illness and premature death in men and women around the world, with evidence revealing that primary prevention of heart disease begins in childhood. The organization recommends children eat a variety of foods and consume enough calories to support their growth and development in hopes of reducing their chances of developing cardiovascular disease later in life.

In order to support healthy eating habits for your child, here are some tips to consider when preparing your child’s lunch for school:

  • Choose foods that are naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fruits and vegetables
  • Swap peanut butter with added sugars and oils to one made with just peanuts
  • Use lean meats. Choose fish, chicken, turkey and lean cuts of beef and pork
  • Switch to fat-free milk. Gradually reduce the fat content of the milk your family drinks
  • Switch white bread to wheat bread
  • Swap juice boxes or chocolate milk for water (infuse with fruit for a flavor boost!)

By consuming a nutritious and healthy lunch, combined with daily exercise, the American Heart Association believes that your child will be set up for a year of optimal learning and development.

For more heart-healthy tips, visit the American Heart Association website.