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Why are not all fats bad for infants? And, although many think otherwise, there are fats that are important and necessary for the development and growth of children. So should we give the child fat? Are all fats the same? Why do some have such a bad reputation? We answer and clarify all these points!
Unfortunately, fats and cholesterol have a bad reputation that makes us avoid them in the children's diet. However, fat plays a vital role for the body, since it is responsible for providing the fatty acids and cholesterol necessary for the cell membranes that form all the structures of the body, including vital organs.
Due to its structural function, providing fat is essential during childhood and adolescence, since they are the fastest growing periods.
However, not all fats are the same and neither are the fatty acids they provide. It is only necessary to supply the so-called essential fatty acids, since both cholesterol and storage fats, which constitute the body's energy reserve, can be manufactured on site.
The natural fats can be saturated and unsaturated, while the third type, trans or hydrogenated fatsIt is found in small quantities in nature, but is produced in large quantities in the food industry. The hydrogenation process causes a chemical transformation in fatty acids, turning them into substances that are harmful to the body and these fats should be avoided in the diet.
Knowing that we must banish trans fats from the children's diet, let's go back to talking about the first two types of fats, saturated and unsaturated, to find out what characterizes them, where we can find them and what advantages and disadvantages each one has:
- Saturated fats
They are found in animal products such as butter, cheese, whole milk or the fatty part of meat, and in plant products such as palm oil or coconut oil. They are characterized by being solid at room temperature and by increasing the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood.
A diet rich in these fats can cause a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries, causing possible blockages or blockages of the same, increasing the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke or other major health problems.
- Unsaturated fats
Here we have to make a new division, since unsaturated fats can be mono or polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats are headed by olive oil, while polyunsaturated include two well-known groups of fatty acids, omega 3 and omega 6.
Omega 3 fatty acids are found in nuts and seeds (especially flax and pumpkin) and oily fish, while omega 6 fatty acids can be found in seed oils such as sunflower.
Among the omega 3s, the most important in the children's diet are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both have vital functions related to the optimal development of the brain and sight, in addition to participating in the regulation of brain functionality, that is, in maintaining communication between neurons and cells.
Among the omega 6 we must highlight gammalinolenic acid (GLA) and arachidonic acid (AA). Its most important functions are structural, since they are part of the cell membrane, in addition to being precursors of certain hormones.
In summary and, by way of conclusion, the contribution of essential fatty acids is essential for good growth and optimal intellectual development, avoiding Trans fat and moderate the consumption of saturated fats, in addition to products in which fats are artificially removed.
According to Spanish Association of Pediatrics, Unbalanced and uncontrolled fat intake can be harmful to children. What to do in these cases? Next, we will list a series of guidelines to deal with this excess fat consumption:
- When you go to prepare a red meat, remove the white, that is, the fat that it has and that it is not necessary to consume.
- In the case of chicken, it should be consumed without skin, since it is the part that has the highest caloric intake.
- In the chapter on sausages you have to have a lot of control. Reduce your consumption and always opt for the lean ones.
- Consult with your pediatrician, but in those cases in which you have to reduce fat intake, you can opt for semi-skimmed milk from 2 years of age.
- Increase the consumption of fish, both blue fish (an average of two times a week) and white fish (3 to 4 times a week).
- To prepare different dishes always use olive oil and, whenever possible, better grilled or baked. In the case of using olive oil, as we have said, better olive oil and that it is done at high temperature and in a short time.
You can read more articles similar to Why Not All Fats Are Bad For Infants, in the Infant Nutrition On-Site category.