By: Kerry McKenzie
Both. You see, not all fats are created equal.
Here is the “skinny” on fats:
Heavily processed, hydrogenated “trans” fats used in prepared, packaged foods can be extremely damaging to the body. They can compromise the cardiovascular system, immune system, and contribute to behavior problems. They can also lead to weight gain, skin breakouts, high blood pressure, and liver strain.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents need to avoid placing any restrictions on the amount of fat your children consumes in the first 2 years of their life. Toddlers need fat to ensure proper growth and early brain development. Another example of how crucial those early years are for healthy growth and development.
That said, our bodies need fat for insulation, vitamin and mineral absorption, and to protect our organs at any age. High-quality fats can steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels even, nourish our skin, hair, and nails, and provide lubrication to keep the body functioning fluidly. It is important for children as it helps provide energy and promotes wound healing.
• Avocados, olives, and coconuts are great sources of healthy fat, along with wild salmon and omega-3 rich organic eggs.
• Whole nuts and seeds, and their butters like almond butter or tahini.
• Look for the highest-quality organic oils when shopping.
• Words to look for: organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin, and unrefined. Avoid expeller-pressed, refined, and solvent extracted.
How to Use Healthy Fats:
• For cooking at high temperatures (stir frying and baking), try butter, ghee (clarified butter), or coconut oil.
• When sautéing foods, try organic extra virgin olive oil.
• Oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut, and pumpkin seed are best used unheated in sauces or dressings.
• Massage sesame, safflower, or coconut oil into your skin daily. You can add a few drops of lavender, rose geranium, clove or your favorite essential oil too.
So now you are surely asking yourself how much fat is enough for a child? For children two and under, about half of their calories should come from fat according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. After age two, their diets can be modified so that dietary fats make up about one third of their caloric intake.
If you find adding dietary fats to your children’s diets is difficult, try this delicious, easy recipe. Our Choosy Mom, Christine, will tell you that her toddler loves avocados!
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Makes 1 cup
1 large peeled and pitted avocado
2/3 cup plain yogurt, goat yogurt, coconut yogurt, or almond yogurt
1 diced tomato
A squirt of lemon or lime juice
Dash or two of sea salt and black pepper
• Mash avocado with a fork until very smooth.
• Add yogurt, tomato, blend until smooth. This may be done in a food processor, in a blender, or with a fork.
• Add sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste.
• Serve chilled with mixed raw vegetables.
Tip: Best when made a maximum of 1 hour before serving.
What other ways do you incorporate health fats into your children’s diets? Let us know as we would love to share your recipes!
About the Author: Kerry McKenzie, B.A., M.S., has been working in education for more than 13 years. She is a Certified Health Coach, a 500 level (E-RYT500) yoga teacher and specializes in early childhood motor development. She has a passion for working with expecting moms, babies, toddlers and preschool age children and their caregivers at Greenville Health Systems pediatric clinic, child care centers and in the community. Click here to learn more about Kerry.