Which Are Good Fats and Oils for Children?
Good fats and oils can be an inherent part of the food children eat such as the fat in meat and fish and fat in the vegetables, nuts, and grains; or they can be added to foods through cooking and as dressings and sauces. A spoonful of a particular fat or oil can be easily added to soups, stews, mixed dishes or hot cereals.
Good fats are quality dairy fats from grass-fed cows, such as butter, cream and whole milk. Good fats are natural fats from properly fed animals, poultry, and fish. These animal fats supply true vitamin A, vitamin D and the proper cholesterol needed for brain and vision development. The animal fats also supply other fat soluble nutrients that support the immune system such as glycosphingolipids. Fish oils such as cod liver oil also supply important elongated omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins A and D.
Good oils are those readily extracted from fruits such as olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, and they are traditionally unrefined. Good oils are also those that are unrefined and extracted from many nuts and seeds. Some of these oils are called omega-3 oils, some are called omega-6 oils, and some are called omega-9 oils. Oils with plenty of omega-3 include flaxseed oil and perilla oil; those with moderate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids include unrefined canola, soybean, and walnut oils. However, for various reasons, most canola and soybean oil should be avoided. Many oils such as unrefined corn oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil do not have omega-3 but are typically high in omega-6 fatty acids and they should be used only in very small amounts.
Foods should be chosen so that they supply a mixture of these different fats and oils. No one fat or oil can properly suit all purposes, although many of the good quality animal fats come close. Children need enough of the stable saturated fats, they need enough of the monounsaturated fats or oils, and they need an adequate amount and a proper balance of the essential fatty acids, which come primarily from the omega-3 and omega-6 oils.