The long-standing myth that eating fat causes high cholesterol, heart disease and weight gain has been debunked and we now know that healthy fats are essential to our health and our kids.
Fats are a vital source of energy for our kids and help satisfy their hunger. Fats are essential for healthy cell membranes, they support kids’ brains and the growth and development of their nervous systems, and help their bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Fat are also necessary to make hormones and immune cells and they help regulate inflammation and metabolism.
While experts agree it’s the trans fats and some saturated fats that should be avoided, foods with healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from whole foods are beneficial.
Here are 5 foods with healthy fats you should consider getting in your kid’s diet.
Avocado is a super-food because the polyunsaturated fats are vital for brain growth and development during pregnancy and for babies and children.
Avocado also packs in a ton of nutrition without a lot of calories.
A good source of fiber, avocado also has 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate, iron, magnesium and potassium.
Avocado also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids or plant pigments, found in the eyes that can improve memory and processes speed, one study found.
Add avocado to salads, make avocado toast or an avocado chocolate pudding.
2. Chia seeds
An excellent source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are by far one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.
In fact, chia seeds are the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show support cardiovascular health, lower inflammation, prevent chronic disease, and support brain health.
Add chia seeds to smoothies, mix them into oatmeal, incorporate them into your favorite baking recipes or make a chia seed pudding.
A word of caution: young children shouldn’t eat chia seeds because of the risk of an obstruction in the esophagus.
The only nut with a significant source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, walnuts are a great way to get healthy fats in your kid’s diet.
An excellent source of magnesium and phosphorus, one ounce of walnuts also have 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber which will satisfy your kid’s hunger and give him plenty of fuel during the day.
Walnuts make for an easy, healthy snack, or add them to salads, savory meals or mix them into breads, muffins and other baked goods.
Most of the healthy fats in olives (a fruit), are oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat, but they also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Olives are also a good source of vitamin e, selenium and zinc.
Add olives to salads, pasta or rice dishes or make an olive tapenade kids can snack on before dinner.
5. Sunflower Seeds
An ounce of sunflower seeds has 14 grams of fat, including omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.
Sunflower seeds are also rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals, as well as magnesium and selenium.
Add sunflower seeds to salads, on top of yogurt or make your own healthy trail mix.