Alright, back into another week. It was a long weekend. I worked on Saturday, and ended up in Denver Saturday night for a birth. Got home last night, exhausted, with a list of stuff to do.
I was thinking this morning of a good topic to start the week. I thought it would be nice to talk about the importance of fat for growing children.
Kid's and Fats
Healthy fats are important for all of us, any age, but especially for growing children. On a daily basis, children are needing to burn through enough fuel not only to fuel their un-exhaustable energy levels, but to sustain their every growing bodies; bones, muscles, brains, etc...
I did a blog post a couple of years ago called, "Differentiating your Dietary Fats." If you haven't already, please read this. It is full of good information, that I am going to be pulling from.
In each fat category, there are important fats that are needed by children.
The Importance of Saturated Fats
Saturated fats get a bad wrap in the diet world. But, let me be the first to tell you, if this is news to you, Saturated fat is not bad for you! Poor quality fats of any kind are.
All fats are characterized by their structure. Saturated fats are, well, saturated with hydrogen atoms, and have a straight tail. This makes them solid at room temperature, and more stable when heated.
In the body of a growing in child, it is important for many reasons:
How to Choose Saturated Fats Wisely
So, please don't skip the saturated fats! But, do choose wisely. Of course there are poor quality saturated fats. Trans fats are the big one. This bad boy is the main reason that saturated fats have a bad rap. Most of the research done on fats, back in the time of low fat diets, was done on hydrogenated fats. Yes, these are technically saturated fats (fats that have been chemically made by taking a non-saturated vegetable oil and binding for hydrogen atoms into it, changing its structure). This process created Trans-Fats. These Trans-Fats are dangerous, no way around it. These "fats" are associated with many, many life threatening diseases and should NEVER BE EATEN!!! They are found in products like; margarine, potato chips, baked goods, processed foods, etc… anything that says partially hydrogenated, or fully hydrogenated is a no-no.
When choosing a meat source, make sure to choose only the best quality. I do not buy everything organic, but when it comes to my meats, I am very strict. When I do buy meats, I buy only animals that have been raised the way nature intended. I buy grass finished, pasture raised cattle, pasture raised (bugs eaten) chickens, and even my eggs are pasture raised. (Do not fall for the vegetarian fed eggs thing. Chicken eat bugs!). Why? Because what the animal has eaten makes a difference in types, ratios and quality of fats found in the animal. Conventional meat is also full of estrogenic compounds that can mess with a growing child's, growing hormones. Has anyone else read and seen how many children are experience early puberty, and boys who are experiencing no puberty…all due to high levels of estrogen in their bodies reeking havoc on their hormones?
NOTE: We are a hunting family, if you have not figured this out, and most all of our meat is wild game, so rarely do we purchase meat from the store. I have a couple of local places that I buy meat if you are interested in some contacts.
We eat a lot of eggs! Eggs to be are a perfect food for growing children. If they are from pasture raised chickens that have a great balance of fats (saturated, omega 3), cholesterol, vitamins, etc… Everything needed to, well, grow a baby right?
What are Monounsaturated Fats
Okay, I thought I would start with the saturated fats, because they are super important and work down the list based on structure. Next up, mono-unsaturated fats. Omega 7 and Omega 9.
What is Omega 7? It is a little known fat that is important for skin, hair and fingernail growth and health. It is found in some nuts, and sea vegetables.
Omega 9 is the mono-unsaturated fat found in Olive Oil. From the past several years and the vast amount of articles touting Olive Oil, and the Mediterranean diet, I think we all understand that Olive Oil has health benefits. It is also found, it its highest concentration in the Acai Berry.
Other Monounsaturated fats are found in Avocados and other nuts. These fatty acids, can technically be made in the body if we are consuming enough Omega 3 and 6 in the correct ratios…most of us are not. This does not mean you need a supplement, just good food choices.
There are many benefits to Mono-unsaturated fats;
Everyone's Favorites: Polyunsaturated Fats
This includes the Omega 3's and Omega 6's. These are essential fatty acids, meaning they MUST be consumed in the diet, as our bodies are not capable of making them on its own. This is also a touchy subject. There is a balance, as there is in everything in life, and we need to consume a 1:1 ratio of Omega 3:Omega 6. Omega 6 is needed for our inflammatory responses. Which is good, as long as we are balancing them with the anti-inflammatory Omega 3.
Good polyunsaturated fats are just as important in a child's growth as saturated fats.
How to Get Enough Fat
Because of all the growing and cell replication going on in a child, they need more nutritional fats than we do as adults. Making sure they have enough variety every day is important. Balancing fruits and vegetables with healthy fat and protein sources is important; meats, nuts, seeds, etc...