Fats in foods: How much for kids?
Is ice cream okay for kids? How about fried chicken nuggets, or French fries? It’s smart to wonder about higher-fat foods for kids. Here’s the scoop...
Trying to cut way back on fat may seem like a good idea, but your child needs some fat to be healthy. Once a child turns two, learning the habit of low-fat eating is healthful, but the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend low-fat eating only after age two, as little ones need more fat for brain development. If your family meals and snacks have less fat your child will pick up that way of eating.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eating a lot of saturated fat increases the chance of heart disease later in life. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Some examples are butter, coconut oil, stick margarine, cheese and processed meats. So, set a good example and limit foods with saturated fat from your family’s diet. Choose mostly lean and low-fat foods to help your child and YOU maintain a healthy weight.
For less fat in family foods:
- Use the Nutrition Facts Label to choose foods, especially those with less saturated fat.
- Keep low-fat snacks in your kitchen such as raw vegetables,fruits, pretzels, and bagels.
- Make grain products, vegetables, and fruits part of family meals and snacks.
- Buy mostly fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt, and low-fat cheese.
- Make cooked dry beans, fish, lean meats, and chicken the center of the meal.
- Use vegetable oils for cooking and baking.
- Limit solid fats, such as butter, hard margarine, coconut oil, and lard.
- Use less fat when you cook.
- Cut fat from meat and remove the skin from chicken.
- Broil, roast, microwave, or stir-fry. Frying adds fat.
- Limit creamy sauces and salad dressings
- Offer small amounts of higher-fat foods, such as French fries and cheese.
- If you have dessert, serve fruit.
Fat in foods provides energy to play, learn, and grow properly. Visit MyPlate to learn more about providing your child with the nutrition for a great start!
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