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Kids: What's Not in the Diet?

It is best to leave meat, dairy, and eggs off children’s plates and to limit sugary, fatty, and highly processed foods. Below are some reasons why.

Too Much Protein 

Meats and eggs are very high in protein. Most people who eat meat actually consume more than twice the protein their bodies need, overworking their kidneys and increasing their risk of serious kidney disease. Meat, eggs, and dairy proteins are high in sulfur–containing amino acids, which are especially likely to carry calcium out through the kidneys. The end result is that people on high–protein diets–like the typical American diet–are more likely to get kidney stones and to suffer from osteoporosis as they get older. 

Cholesterol and Saturated Fat

All meats, including poultry and fish, contain significant amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat. Dairy products and eggs are problematic for many of the same reasons. Even the leanest cuts of meat are surprisingly high in saturated fat, increasing the risk of artery blockages, which start in childhood and often lead to heart disease later in life.

           

Cholesterol is found only in animal products, so abstaining from meat, dairy, and eggs completely eliminates cholesterol from the diet. Our bodies make all the cholesterol we need, so avoiding dietary sources can only benefit us. Studies comparing people who eat meat with those who eat vegetarian foods show that vegetarians have decidedly lower levels of cholesterol and a much lower risk of heart disease.            

           

Disease Prevention

Time and again, when researchers look at diets around the world, they see countries with the highest meat and dairy consumption suffering from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even in China, where everyone eats less meat than in North America, those eating a bit more meat suffer higher rates of disease.

           

Sugary and Highly Processed Foods

Highly processed foods and sugary beverages are known as “empty–calorie” foods. Children continue to grow and develop into their early 20s, so they can’t afford to miss out on nutrients. Switching out the empty–calorie foods with healthy whole plant foods ensures that growing kids get all the nutrients they need, while helping them maintain a healthy weight.