You’ve probably heard many negative things about fats. But while an excess amount of certain kinds of fats is unhealthy, we need healthy fats in our body. Healthy fats supply nutrients that are essential for growth and necessary for our metabolism.
Fats are important
Our body needs fats to build nerve tissues and hormones. The body also uses fats as fuels. When the fats we eat are not used as energy or used to produce other essential substances, they are stored by the body in the fat cells to be used later when the body lacks energy. Eating the right amount of healthy fats, therefore, is important for children.
What are the benefits of healthy fats?
The brain is made up of about 70% of fat, so fats are especially important to the brain. Other benefits of fats include the following:
- Making children feel full, hence, less likely to overeat
- Insulating all nervous tissues in the body
- Being the building blocks of hormones
- Helping the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D, E, A, and K
Types of fats in foods
- Unsaturated fats: These types of fats are mostly found in fish and plant foods. They include mono-unsaturated (found in olive oils), polyunsaturated (present in vegetable oils), and omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish, like tuna and salmon).
- Saturated fats: These are mostly present in meat and other animal products such as cheese and butter. Coconut oil contains a high amount of saturated fat. Eating a lot of saturated fats is not recommended as it raises the level of blood cholesterol.
- Trans fats: Trans fats are considered to be the least healthy fat. Sources of this type of fat include prepackaged foods, waffles, snacks, and baked goods. In the body, trans fats can raise cholesterol levels, increase the levels of oxygen radicals, and raise the risk of heart disease.
How much fat should your child get?
Although the amount of fat needed by the body depends on the calorie needs of each child, fats should remain a vital part of a kid’s diet because they play an important role in brain development. The kind of diet your child eats should be balanced, with healthy fats providing one-third of the calories.
Just try to avoid trans fats and excessive consumption of red meat (beef and pork) whenever possible.
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (8 July 2021)