The Best Ways to Include Healthy Fats in Your Child’s Diet

Fats are necessary for kids as a source of energy and heat. They are high in calories and contain very valuable polyunsaturated fatty acids, the lack of which leads to growth retardation. Children who receive fats less than normal are less resistant to adverse external influences, especially cold. 

With fat efficiency in the tissues, the amount of substances containing phosphorus, which is important for the normal functioning of the central nervous system and the brain, decreases, and the assimilation of vitamins A and D decreases sharply. Butter, egg yolk, fish oil, and brown products are rich in saturated fats. However, the unsaturated fatty acids needed by the body are found in vegetable oils. Therefore, the third part of all fats in the kid’s diet should be represented by vegetable oil. Fats in a kid’s daily diet should make up 25-30% of calories, the minimum rate is 20%.

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Types of Fats

Fats are a large group of organic compounds and according to their biochemical structure, they are divided into:

  • saturated fats
  • unsaturated fats
  • trans fats

Saturated fats, so-called essential fats are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Their main functions are:

  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • anti-inflammatory effect
  • positive effect on hormones
  • providing energy
  • assimilation of fat-soluble vitamins
  • positive effect on the brain

The unsaturated group of fats includes omega-9 and they have many health benefits:

  • lowering the level of LDL
  • maintaining the level of HDL
  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases

However, these positive functions will only work if there is a balanced combination of fats.

Trans fats are unsaturated hydrogenated fats. They are created from unsaturated acids. In the process of hydrogenation (saturation of unsaturated acids with hydrogen), the only useful acid – alpha-linolenic acid – is destroyed. In such cases, we get trans fats, which have many harmful functions:

  • increase the level of “bad” cholesterol and chronic inflammation
  • contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes
  • disrupt carbohydrate metabolism

How to Add Fats to a Kid’s Menu

Products, where Omega-3 is found, are as follows:

  • fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies);
  • oysters
  • caviar
  • seeds (flax, chia, sesame, hemp)
  • walnuts
  • soybeans
  • linseed oil

Omega-6 is found in:

  • tofu 
  • avocado
  • sunflower seeds
  • nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews)
  • eggs

To include such fats into the kid’s menu experts advise adding 2-3 fish dishes to the weekly diet. Every meal should contain dishes with oils. You can add 1 tablespoon of pumpkin, flax, olive, or sesame oil to vegetables. The combination of fat and fiber is the key to satiety. You can also add 1 tablespoon of sesame, flax, or pumpkin seeds to salads. In addition, a child should eat 1-2 avocados a day for breakfast or lunch. Of course, a child might not be satisfied with such a diet so you can give it 30-40g of its favorite snacks for babies

Omega-9 is usually found in oils (rapeseed, avocado, olive, sesame), as well as in:

  • peanut butter
  • avocado
  • nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts)

By the way, the products that form the basis of the Mediterranean diet are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Trans fats are an example of unnatural, harmful fats that can harm a kid’s immature organism. Therefore, they should be completely abandoned:

  • it is better to replace sweets with natural snacks for babies
  • avoid semi-finished products and junk food
  • pay attention to the packaging. Nutritionists say that the labels rarely indicate “contains trans fats”, they are marked as “hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats”

It is also worth paying attention to the ingredients. If the composition contains solid vegetable oils (spread or margarine), these are trans fats. Therefore, it is better to refuse such products.

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