What are good fats to eat?
Most of us view fat in a negative light. It is true that certain types of fats are bad for our health, but there are good fats to eat as well. Children don’t need a no fat diet, they need a right fat diet! Fat is a nutrient and has many benefits, but it’s important to learn about the different types of fats.
Unsaturated fats are good fats to eat. These fats include oils like olive, fish and grapeseed oils. Other foods containing unsaturated fats include avocados, nuts, seeds and fish. These fats are good for the heart, help to increase HDL levels, decrease LDL levels, build healthy tissue and skin, make hormones and fat-soluble vitamins, like D and K. Omega 3s are also an example of unsaturated fats and have numerous benefits. Foods like wild salmon, eggs and soybeans are rich in Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids build healthy brain cells, reduce the risk for heart disease, help lower cancer risks, help to elevate mood, and increase learning and attention span.
Saturated fats are another type of fat that are not good fats to eat. Saturated fats are found in butter, chocolate, fatty cuts of beef and dairy products like cheese. These fats are “sticky” and solid at room temperature. Saturated fats can increase LDL levels, weaken the immune system, interfere with nerve cell function and increase the risk for cancer and heart disease.
Finally, trans-fat is the worst type of fat for our health. Trans-fats are found in hydrogenated oils. These are man-made, usually for the purpose of extending the shelf life of packaged foods. Check the label on packaged foods to see if the ingredients contain the words “hydrogenated” or “partially-hydrogenated,” and try to avoid these foods. These fats are the worst for us because they are not naturally occurring in our bodies, so we don’t know how to break them down. They don’t have any nutritional value and contribute to low birth weights, raise blood sugar levels and increase LDL cholesterol.
While children often enjoy fast food and sweet treats, it’s important to make sure to limit these foods due to the high saturated and trans-fat content. Increasing the amount of good fats to eat like unsaturated fat in your child’s diet is a great idea to help maintain kids’ physical and mental health!