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Economic Status Tied to Blood Vessel Health in Kids

New research shows that children from low-income families and neighborhoods have thicker walls in their carotid arteries, Reuters reports. Carotid arteries provide blood to the brain. Although the condition can’t predict whether the children will have heart problems or strokes in the future, it does show that continued vigilance with exercise, healthy diet, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight is vitally important.

While the featured article didn’t mention it, many low-income children are on the federal food assistance program known as SNAP. And while this program has succeeded in fighting hunger, it has largely failed in providing adequate, much less optimal, nutrition — which we already know can play a huge part in cardiovascular health. Program rules allow payment for "any food or food product for home consumption." In other words, sugary products like soda not only are allowable, but are the No. 1 purchase made by SNAP households.

Many cities and states have called for restrictions on SNAP dollars to prevent the purchase of soda and other sugary beverages and junk food, but such moves have faced criticism over the notion of regulating people's food choices. It's certainly a slippery slope to begin meddling in people's right to choose what to eat, not to mention that other proclaimed "unhealthy foods," like saturated fats, could end up facing restrictions too.

It's worth noting that the SNAP program does allow purchases at some farmers markets and can also be used for food-producing plants and seeds, which allows participants to grow their own produce — one of the best choices economically and for your health. Bone broth, fermented vegetables and sprouts (grown at home) are examples of additional foods that are inexpensive and phenomenal for your health. You can find more tips for eating healthy on a tight budget here.
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