Fat is probably the most underrated and misunderstood nutrient. With the internet (and even some doctors) providing us with misleading information, it’s no wonder we are confused. We love and adore healthy fats, and we’re here to set the record straight! We hope to give healthy fats the hall of fame status they rightfully deserve.
The biggest issue is that eating fat is associated with being fat. But the truth is that healthy fat does not make us fat. Carbs do!
More confusion arises because not all fat is healthy. It is important to differentiate between a “good” fat and a “bad” fat. Good fats are found in nutrient-dense whole foods like eggs, coconuts, avocados, dark chocolate, olives, cheese, butter, high-quality dairy, nuts, seeds, unprocessed high-quality oils, nut butters, fatty fish, and grass-fed animals. We provided much more info on the difference between unhealthy and healthy fats in our Healthy Fats Resource Guide.
Bad fats encourage disease, mental fog, and early aging. They are found predominantly in processed foods. The anatomy of processed food includes trans fats, proinflammatory seed oils, sugar, salt, and artificial additives. This garbage considered “food” by some yields huge profits for Big Food at the expense of our health. Baked goods, fried foods, conventional animal products, and industrial cooking oils should be avoided as much as possible.
Considering how wonderful healthy fats are, it’s becoming quite obvious that we need to make sure our kids are eating this super macronutrient daily!
Here are 8 great benefits of healthy fats for kids:
1. Fat is an essential nutrient.
If we don’t eat fat we will die. Plus, who doesn’t love the wonderful textures provided by our friend, fat, such as the creaminess of yogurt and smoothness of avocados. Ever eat a pasture raised egg for breakfast? Thanks to the fat content, these foods are incredibly delicious even without salt and pepper. Not to mention, they keep you full until lunch
2. Fat is the best source of prolonged energy.
As a matter of fact, every time you see the word “fat,” just substitute the word “energy.” Serving your kids a meal loaded with healthy fat not only gives them sustained energy, it also sets them up to avoid the dangerous sugar rush and crash that most simple carbs and sugary foods cause.
3. Fat promotes brain health and optimal nerve signaling.
Our brains are made up of 60% fat. Critical structures such as phospholipids in fat make up the important architecture of our kids’ developing brains. A diet low in fat reduces the raw materials for thriving brains. And don’t forget to remind your pregnant friends how important healthy fats are for their babies’ developing brains. The one nutrient I always took while pregnant was DHA.
4. Fat is a carrier, or “shuttle,” for the essential fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).
Without fat, these critical vitamins as well as other phytonutrients can’t be absorbed properly in the intestines. Phytonutrients are substances found in plants that are not essential but are important for optimal health, such as lycopene and beta-carotene. Now that you’ve worked so hard to get your kids to eat their carrots and sweet potatoes, don’t forget the grass-fed butter or olive oil to help your kiddos absorb the veggie vitamins!
5. Fat satisfies our appetite by adding flavor and helping us to feel full.
It promotes a healthy stable weight. It may sound strange, but if you want your kids to maintain a healthy weight that is healthy for their body, cut the sugar and feed them more healthy fat.
6. Fat is important for healthy lungs.
Surfactant is a substance that coats the lungs that is necessary for optimal breathing. It is composed of 100% saturated fats. So don’t shy away from the butter, ghee, coconut oil, or animal fats!
Fun fact: Did you know breastmilk is mostly saturated fat, too?
7. Fat is a critical building block for critical messengers in our bodies called hormones and hormone-like substances.
For example, fat secretes the hormone leptin which regulates appetite. Also, having enough fat is necessary for women to have normal menstrual periods. We know how important hormones are. Let’s make sure we are nourishing them properly with good, healthy fats!
8. Fat is necessary for healthy hearts as it helps regulate our blood pressure.
Omega 3 fatty acids, an essential fat, have been shown to reduce inflammation in our bodies, which causes a significant reduction in heart disease. Many studies have shown that there is no direct relationship between healthy fats and heart diseases and in fact, there are studies that have shown a connection between heart disease and low-fat diets.
Remember, healthy fats are all-stars. In our family we strive to get a serving of fat with all our meals. See this article on our ten favorite healthy fats to feed our kids.
When we get adequate fat in our diet, we will get countless benefits and feel more satisfied with abundant energy. Moreover, we will maintain a healthy weight because we will be less likely to snack in between meals. Above all, we will begin to think more clearly as our brains will have all the building blocks to function optimally.
We hope that this article helped you learn more about the benefits of healthy fats for kids and inspires you to include them with every meal!