Parents today are extra-conscious about what their children eat and they are NOT wrong in their concern. The easy availability of junk food and growing obesity among children is no doubt a cause for growing concern among parents. Finding out which is the best cooking oil for babies is also a concern for all parents.
It is difficult to make out the quantity of sugar, quality, and quantity of fats/oils and other micro-ingredients that are added to junk and packaged food. Even in those labeled as healthy foods, unknown quantities of fats and sugars can be present. Our media and health industry projects the “culprit of all illnesses” as fats. Our supermarket shelves are stocked with low fat, cholesterol free, trans-fat free refined oils. But are these oils safe as they claim to be? Can these oils be consumed without any restriction as these are low fat?
What effects do these oils have on babies? What are the oils best-suited for babies’ consumption? There are innumerable number of questions on parents’ minds. Let us understand about why oils are necessary and also which is the best cooking oil for babies.
YES. Fat is good for your baby and is necessary as well. The key is to include good fats in limited quantities. Good fat is very much essential for growing babies as they help in cell repair, brain development, and bone & organ growth. Fats are also needed for the body to absorb Vitamins A, D, E & K.
Oils and fats also act as a lubricant during digestive process and prevent constipation. In fact, breast milk is comprised mostly of fat which is very nourishing to the baby.However, excess use of oils and fats in your baby’s food can lead to obesity and other serious health conditions in the long term. The key is to monitor the quantity of oil you are serving to your baby.
Refined oils are oils that are subject to chemical processing at very high temperatures, which causes them to lose most of the nutrients along with the flavor. As the oil is subjected to extreme heat, there are high chances of toxic substances getting created in the oil and also, the essential amino acids are destroyed. Since there is no nutritive value in the refined oil, consuming such oils has no health benefits for the babies.
You can use any oils that were traditionally used in our cuisine such as groundnut oil, mustard oil, coconut oil or sesame oil. Alternatively, you can also use sunflower oil or olive oil for the new-age recipes.
Always use cold-pressed and filtered oils rather than refined oils. Cold-pressed are obtained by pressing the oil seeds at very low temperatures and is then filtered to remove any leftover particles. Filtered oils retain their original flavors and retain most of their nutrients. Since these oils tend to turn rancid soon, the manufacturer usually uses fresh and good quality raw materials for better taste and long storage.
Also, ghee is an excellent option to use for preparing your baby’s food. Ghee has antifungal and antiviral properties and promotes lubrication of joints. It aids digestion and also increases skin tone. Butter is also suitable as a breakfast spread for items like dosa, idli, paratha etc. Before introducing an oil for your baby, ensure that your baby is not allergic to the contents of the oil.
While preparing food for your baby, you can always follow the age-old method to decide the best oil for the recipe. Groundnut oil suits best for upma, the east Indian recipes may never taste the same without mustard oil and South Indian rasam may not taste good without tempering with ghee.
However, you should avoid mixing oils as different oils can have different heating temperatures which can affect the flavor of the food and may potentially cause loss of nutrients in the oil with low smoking point.
Let us understand the benefits of some of the traditional oils.
Also read: Benefits of Almond Oil For Babies
Oils and fats such as canola oil, vanaspati or margarine, which are made either from genetically modified raw materials or through extensive refinement can be avoided altogether. Such oils/fats have no nutritional benefits and are high in trans fats, which can be linked to obesity and other illnesses.
Oils and Fats are essential for our well-being just like vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates etc. It should be a compulsory ingredient in your baby’s diet but in the right quantity.
Always choose organic, cold-pressed and filtered oils rather than refined oils to derive maximum health benefits. You can also choose to add ghee to your baby’s food or use butter as a breakfast spread. Though there are many oils which are suitable for babies, use your discretion to choose the best one for your baby. You can use different oils for different dishes as the recipe demands. However, avoid mixing different types of oils.
Also read: Benefits Of Mustard Oil For Babies
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