You hear a lot of bad things about fat. However, fat is actually good for you and essential to overall health. Fats are particularly important to our children.
The key is to know what fats are good for you, and which fats are bad. There are three kinds of fats.
- Unsaturated fats – these are the healthiest fats you can consume. They are liquid, smooth, and flexible.
- Saturated fats – these fats that can be healthy or unhealthy; it depends on how much we consume. These fats are more firm than unsaturated fats.
- Trans-fats (Hydrogenated fats) – these are unhealthy processed fats. A chemical process takes the healthy unsaturated fat (liquid) and turns it into a solid fat.
Unsaturated and saturated fats are naturally occurring fats, while trans-fats are man-made.
Here are some interesting facts about fats.
- Fat gives us energy.
- We need fat to absorb certain vitamins such as A and D.
- Fat is a nutrient.
- Fat contributes to healthy skin and hair.
- Fat makes up about 60% of our brains!
Fats that naturally come from the sea or land are good fats. Saturated fats are further broken down into two types.
- Monounsaturated fat
- Polyunsaturated fat
A good amount of the right kinds of fats are essential to the health of a growing child. Good fats help keep their heart and brain healthy.
The younger a child is, the more fat they need in their diet for optimal health as their brains are growing at a rapid rate.
Here are some foods that contain the good fat that we need.
|Unsaturated Fats||Saturated Fats|
Seeds and nuts (walnuts, almonds, pumpkin)
Fish (salmon being the best)
There is one type of fat that I am going to dedicate an entire upcoming post to, and that is Omega-3. They are that important, and arguably the most under-consumed essential nutrient. Omega-3 fat is especially important for our children’s health and growing brains.
Too much of a good thing can be bad. This is particularly the case with saturated fats. Over-consumption of these fats can result in unhealthy weight gain. In addition, we should limit our consumption of saturated fats as eating too much can lead to high cholesterol.
The primary source of saturated fats is animal fats. Eating lean meats in the proper portions is key. So again, while the right kinds of fats are good for you, over-eating them can turn something good into something rather bad. You need to be careful when consuming saturated fats!
Trans-fats, also known as hydrogenated fats, are the ugly of the fat family. They are a primary culprit in many conditions and diseases that plague us. Now, they sure do taste good, but what they do to your body can be unforgiving.
Trans-fats are cheap to make and they make food last longer. This is why some food manufacturers use them. It helps their bottom line.
Some examples of foods that contain trans-fat are:
- Fried foods (burgers and fries)
- Chips and crackers
- Cakes and pastries
The list goes on and on. This goes back to my post on Traffic Light Eating. Any food that contains trans-fat is a Red Light food. You should stop and consider a healthier option, and when a healthier option is not available, consider smaller portions. It is also important to limit how often you eat these kinds of food.
The message here is simple, the right fats in you and your child’s diet are essential to overall health. We must take a common sense approach when it comes to the consumption of saturated fats, and should avoid trans-fats/hydrogenated fats. So as I learned in my health coach training with the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, it’s not about a low-fat diet, it’s about a RIGHT fat diet.
Recommendation: (Affiliate Link) Super Healthy Kids is a great resource for healthy recipes and kitchen organization.
Upcoming: Lookout for posts on healthy cereals, Omega-3s, and carbohydrates. My goal is to always provide information in digestible chunks so you are not overwhelmed!