Fats for children
It is true that too much fat can be unhealthy. However, there are certain kinds of fats that are an important part of a healthy diet.
Fats are nutrients found in food that the body uses as fuel and also to build hormones and nerve tissue which includes the brain and nerves. Getting enough healthy fats is essential for growth and development. Young children need enough of them in their diet to help the brain and nervous system develop normally.
Besides supplying fuel for the body, fats:
- help the body absorb some vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble, meaning they can only be absorbed if there's fat in a person's diet),
- are the building blocks of hormones,
- they are the building blocks for nerve tissue,
- insulate all nervous system tissues in the body,
- help people feel full, so they're less likely to overeat.
The excess fat that is consumed is stored by the body in fat cells and can lead to many health problems.
A significant source of fat for kids includes:
- potato chips,
- fatty meats such as bacon, the fattier cuts of red meat and hot dogs,
- fast-food and takeout meals tend to have more fat than home cooking,
- fried dishes are the highest in fat content.
It is important to note that fat also often "hides" in foods in the form of creamy, cheesy, or buttery sauces or dressings.
Children whose diets include too many bad fats have a higher risk of increased cholesterol levels and heart disease later in life.
What is the difference between good fats and bad fats.
Good fats will give your body energy, which your child needs to grow and develop. Bad fats make our bodies produce bad cholesterol, which can lead to health problems.
Good fat is sometimes called unsaturated fat which comes in two forms:
There are two types of polyunsaturated fat: omega-3 and omega-6 (found in fish, chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds). These are also known as essential fatty acids. Our bodies can’t make essential fatty acids, so we need to get them from food.
Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, olives avocado, sunflower oil, nuts and seeds.
Unhealthy fats are found in the form of saturated fat and trans fat.
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