Benefits Of Healthy Fats For Toddlers

Benefits Of Healthy Fats For Toddlers

Toddlers are a bundle of energy who love to explore their surroundings. Toddler years are the ones of rapid growth and development. Due to this toddlers need those extra healthy fats that provide them the kind of energy required for activities and overall development. Restricting a toddlers intake of fat is associated with poor growth and development. All babies need a good dose of healthy fats for their overall growth and development.

What are fats?

Fats are crucial nutrients found in food that the body uses to develop nerve tissues. We cannot live without fat. Fats not only supply us with energy but also make other nutrients do their job properly. Fatty foods and restaurant food have more fats in them and tend to make the body obese. Toddlers are recommended only healthy fats as a daily dose. Home cooked meals are loaded with healthy fats.

Fats can be classified into four types:

#1. Saturated fats

Saturated fats are found in high-fat meats like pork, beef, lamb or skinned chicken and some dairy products like butter, cheese, whole milk. Coconut oil is also a type of saturated fat. These fats provide cellular stability in the human body. But an excess of saturated fats can increase cholesterol levels and the risk of heart diseases.

#2. Monounsaturated fats

They are also stable fats and are found in nuts, vegetable oils, peanut butter, almond butter, avocado. These are associated with a healthy heart and benefits blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

#3. Polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats are those that we get from plant-based foods and oils. Omega 3 fatty acid is a type of this fat and has health benefits. DHA that is important for brain development is present in such fats. This type of fat can be found in walnuts, pumpkin seeds, roasted soybean, vegetable oils, fish, tofu etc.

#4. Trans fats

These are the worst type of fats that are found in deep fried foods, processed foods, baked goods, vegetable shortening. Such fats can increase the ‘bad’ cholesterol and risk of heart diseases.

What are Healthy fats?

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are considered the most healthy fats. Foods that contain healthy fats tend to be liquid at room temperature. Young kids need healthy fats for their overall growth and development. These healthy fats help the body to absorb some vitamins like A, D, K and E. Such fats are the building blocks for hormones and insulate nervous system tissues in the body. Healthy fats are a concentrated source of energy for our bodies. Our bodies cannot digest and absorb Vitamins A, D, E and K without these healthy fats. Research shows that children between the age of 1 and 3 should get 30-40% of their total calories from fats.

7 Benefits of healthy fats for Toddlers

#1. Brain Development

As kids grow so is their brain which is rapidly developing. Thus adequate fat intake is essential. Fat comprises almost 60% of the human brain! Having adequate levels of DHA helps to develop cognition, memory and even helps improve ADHD. They help kids stay sharp and develop concentration. Healthy fats keep the brain cells in good form for sending and receiving information.

#2. Nerve system

Nerves are protected by Myelin sheaths which contain a very high level of fatty acids. Myelin sheaths are fatty tissues that protect the nerve cells. These nerve cells are part of the central nervous system which carries messages back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body. So a deficiency of fatty acids (healthy fats) can lead to nerve damage even before birth.

#3. Eyes

Serious eye conditions can be avoided if healthy fats are included in the diet. Foods that contain more antioxidants ward of oxidants that can affect the eye health in a negative way. STudies have found that Omega 3 is very important for eye health as DHA is found in abundance in the retina of the eyes.

#4. Absorption of Vitamins by the body

Plant-based foods have important nutrients, fiber, and Vitamins which are essential for the body. But some of the Vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E and K which are fat soluble Vitamins need healthy fats to be easily transported and absorbed into the body.

#5. Body composition

Being overweight or underweight depends on the consumption of healthy fats. Toddlers who tend to be overweight will most likely be obese when they grow up. The benefit of healthy fat consumption is that it lowers the risk of becoming overweight and in turn lowering the risk of diabetes at a later stage.

#6. Energy levels and hunger pangs

Fats are the source of energy. But if your toddler seems hungry most of the times or wants to munch all the time, then he/she must be given more healthy fats. Healthy fats tend to make the stomach full for a longer time, thus avoiding eating junk food and munching on snacks loaded with sugar which can lead to obesity. Including healthy fats with your meals will provide toddlers with much-needed energy and also make them fuller for a longer time. Not only this, if a child is full for a longer time, he/she is less likely to become cranky or moody.

#7. Regulates Blood sugar

With so many options in the market, intake of sugar has increased. Children want cookies and candies all the time. When given, not only does sugar increase weight, it also provides a sugar rush which is a rise in the blood sugar level. A high sugar diet leads to mood swings, obesity, lower immune system, and fatigue. At a later stage, there is also a risk of diabetes. The dietary fats in healthy fat food help regulate and stabilize the sugar levels. Full-fat dairy products are associated with less weight gain and lesser risk of getting diabetes. Thus ‘fat isn't bad’ after all. It is an important part of toddlers healthy diet and critically important for them since they are in their growing years and need to still develop their brain and nerve systems.