Saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, trans fats, good fats, bad fats, essential fats, omega 3 and omega 6. These are all terms we hear in relation to fat in our diet and in our body. As parents trying to provide the best food for your kids it’s understandable to feel confused. Lets clear it up!
Good fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated– monounsaturated fats lower bad LDL cholesterol and maintain good HDL cholesterol. The best sources of these fats are nuts, seeds, oils and butters made from nuts and seeds (eg peanut butter, olive oil)
Bad fats – saturated and trans – raise cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease and tend to get deposited as body fat. The main sources of these fats in the diet is animal foods – ie meat and dairy. However these are nutritious foods and should not be avoided as they provide lots of other beneficial nutrients, choose lean and low fat versions for maximum nutrition and minimal saturated fat. Foods that provide saturated fat and little nutrition are things like commercial snack foods, potato chips, sweet and savoury biscuits, processed meats like devon and deep fried takeaway foods. These foods should be considered sometimes foods and not part of a child’s daily diet.
Essential fats – polyunsaturated omega 3 and omega 6 – omega 6 lowers total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Omega 3 lowers triglycerides, reduces the risk of blood clots and irregular heartbeat. They are called essential because they must come from the diet, your body can’t make them. Oily fish such as salmon and tuna are the best source of omega 3 fats in the diet, canola oil is also a good plant source.
Fat is essential in our diet and should contribute about 30% of kids daily energy intake. Little kids have high energy needs for growth and activity and little tummies and often small appetites, healthy fats provide energy in small volumes.
All of us including kids should get fats from nutritious healthy foods like dairy, lean meats, fish, nuts and seeds and their oils. It’s when we get most of our fats from non-nutritious foods like deep fried takeaway, commercial savoury snacks or cakes and biscuits that problems start.