A lot of information has been doing the rounds about fats these days — “they are bad for you”, “it's bad for our kids’ health” and “fats and oils make us unhealthy and prone to disease.” It's not the oil and fat that make you obese, it's your lifestyle and the bad fat that you consume in the form of junk and processed food. Your diet should include a moderate quantity of healthy oils, nuts, seeds and, at least, one teaspoon of ghee. Increase the intake of cold pressed, unrefined, extra virgin oils like coconut oil, olive oils, rice bran oil, groundnut oil, sesame oil, mustard oil, etc. Nuts and seeds like flax seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts and pistachios (both in small quantities) are also a good source of fat. Fat is a dense source of energy as 1 gm of fat provides 9 kcal. Fat is also important because a few vitamins like A, D, E and K require fat globules for absorption.
Bad fats lead to heart disease
Avoid cholesterol, trans fats and polyunsaturated fats from fried and processed unhealthy food. Bad fats from junk food make the platelets in your child’s blood stickier. These platelets, then, result in clots that stick to the walls of arteries which supply oxygenated blood to vital areas of the body. The clots then create a wall of plaque that can eventually lead to less blood flow to the heart causing a heart attack or stroke. It also causes obesity and inflammation, makes the metabolism sluggish and reduces brain development.
Sources of good fats
Fats are a great source of energy for children because even a small quantity of fats provides a large number of calories essential to your toddler’s health and brain development. These fats are easily stored in a child's body and light on your baby's tummy. Foods that contain a high level of fats include organic whole milk, organic dairy products, cooking oils, meat, fish, nuts and seeds, and ghee.
Why to include omega-3 in your child's diet
It is essential to include omega-3 fats in your toddler’s diet because it acts as an antioxidant to prevent diseases, promotes healthy cell growth and improves brain function. The best sources of omega-3 are flax seed, walnut, fish, fish oil, cod liver oil, etc. Flax seeds are rich in various nutrients like alpha-linolenic acid and omega-3 fats making it a vegan superfood. Children are not interested in such healthy superfoods and they are likely to avoid plain flax seeds. Camouflaging flax seeds into their meals provides a simple solution. You could also top their sandwiches, wraps or smoothies with ground flax seeds.
Yogurt-flax dip recipe
- 1 cup unflavoured yoghurt
- Hand blender/whisk
- 1 tablespoon raw flax seed powder
- Rock salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
How to make the dip:
- Cover a sieve with cheesecloth or a muslin cloth.
- Pass the home-made fresh yoghurt through the sieve into a bowl to get hung curd.
- Tie the hung curd tightly in the muslin cloth and hang it up at room temperature for 2 hours so that all the liquid is drained out.
- Refrigerate the hung curd for about 10-12 hours.
- Take required quantity of the hung curd and mix it with the help of a hand blender/whisk till it becomes smooth.
- Add rock salt, pepper and flax seed powder and mix well.
- Spread this creamy yoghurt cream cheese on a wrap or sandwich, or serve with steamed veggies as a dip to make a heathy meal for your child.
So, remember that healthy fats are good for your child. Ensure that your child understands that what she eats will have a significant impact on how she grows, feels and behaves.
The author is an Alternative Medicine Specialist and Founder at Pure Nutrition.