Fat is an important energy-producing nutrient in the body. Every baby needs to consume fats as they stimulate growth but the knowledge of good and bad fats is essential for a balanced and healthy diet.
Fats are nutrients present in food which are required by the body to build nerves, hormones and also provide energy. However, if fats are not used up as energy, they get stored in the body inside the fat cells for use in the future.
Even though they give a rich texture and flavor to food, they are high in calories and can cause health problems if consumed in excess. This is why parents must be aware of the difference between the good fats and bad fats.
What are Good Fats?
Good fats are unsaturated fats that may be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Our body cannot make polyunsaturated fats, so we need to derive them from food. Good fats produce good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart diseases. Good fats are available in the following foods:
- Leafy vegetables
- Soy food,Nuts and seeds
- Homemade clarified butter (ghee)
- Paneer or cottage cheese
- Breast milk for babies
Good fat helps better development of the brain and eyes in a baby and strengthens their immune system.
What are Bad Fats?
Bad fats are saturated and are known to produce bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart diseases.
Bad fats can be found in various foods:
- Animal meat
- Palm oil in fried food like chips and biscuits
- Chocolate energy bars
Tips for a Balanced Diet
- Breast milk provides babies with the right amount of unsaturated fats.
- For better growth, babies should be given full fat food when they are introduced to solids. Avoid skim milk and dairy products .
- If the baby is formula fed, consult the doctor to make sure he gets all the good fat in the right proportion.
- Feed your child a variety of foods to include a wide range of fats.
- Once babies are weaned off breast milk, they should be given vegetable oils in their diet for fatty acids.
- Review the child’s daily diet. How much of good and bad fat he consumes daily should be kept track of. The consumption of saturated fats should be very limited.
- Carefully read the nutrition content panel mentioned on packaged food before buying
- Try to avoid giving any food with bad fats to the baby like butter, meat, etc.
- When buying packaged food, choose ones that have a tick mark by the heart foundation implying that they have low trans-fat content.
- Try to have a lot of variations in the diet to make it healthier.
- Restrict the use of processed food for your baby and make them consume fresh and healthy food containing unsaturated fats
- Eating food like ice creams and chocolates should be limited to special occasions.
The word ‘fat’ has a negative connotation, but it helps to know the truth behind different kinds of fats. Include more of the good variety and try to cut down on the bad kind to keep your family fit and healthy!