Tips for increasing good fats into your child’s diet

Guest blog from our friend Helen Cassidy, Nutritional Therapist and owner at Food Hugs.

The fat family has a bad reputation. They all seem a bit wayward, not good to have around and bad for the neighbourhood.

This reputation is mostly down to the rumoured problems with one family member, saturated fat, and his dodgy cousin, trans-fat.

However, the fact is that other members of the fat family are actually very nice and would provide all sorts of benefits to us, if we just got to know them a bit better!

Indeed, the omega 3 and 6 polyunsaturated fats are absolutely essential for us to get to know, especially for children, as they are vital to brain development, help keep the heart and blood healthy, are essential for hormones and cell membranes, keep our skin supple and metabolism boosted, and are anti-inflammatory to boot. Sure, why wouldn’t we become friends!

In a standard Western diet, we tend to eat a lot of omega 6 oils (in sunflower, safflower, corn, sesame, peanut oils, etc), so the focus really is on rebalancing this with good, natural sources of omega 3 to get the vital benefits mentioned above.

Top 3 sources of good fats for your child’s diet:

1. Oily fish: provides, by far, the best source of omega 3. Think a lovely salmon fish pie with mash, or a whole-wheat pitta pocket stuffed with oven roasted salmon (180C for 15 minutes) with cherry tomatoes, spinach and drizzled with natural yogurt. Mackerel, herring (incl. kippers) and trout are also really good sources.

2. Ground nuts and seeds: a great source of both omega 3 and 6. The best vegetarian sources of omega 3 are flaxseed and chia seed. Flax is generally much cheaper and is best consumed raw and ground. Linwoods has a good range and are found in most supermarkets. Lidl and Aldi also do similar, cheaper versions.

Ground seeds are so easy to sneak into your child’s diet – simply sprinkle 2 tablespoons per day on cereal, or blitz into soups at the end of cooking, or into smoothies. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of omega 3, as well as hemp seeds and walnuts.

Nuts and seeds have the added advantage of including a lot of the vitamins and minerals required to process this oil in the body, as well as lots of fibre for digestion. Omega 6 is abundant in a range of nuts and seeds, such as sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, safflower, walnut, almond, etc.

3. Avocado: a great source of monounsaturated omega 9, super for skin health and keeping arteries supple. Avocado can be eaten as a lovely guacamole (with lemon, little bit of garlic and sprinkle of salt), or incorporated into smoothies for a lovely creamy texture. See my recipe for a lovely green smoothie with avocado.

So adding a few of the above to your weekly shopping list and incorporating them into your child’s diet will literally do the world of good, especially as they still have a lot of growing to do!

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