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  • Denise Scott


Updated: Jul 14, 2022

Fat is necessary in our diet to support cell function, make hormones, and keep

us warm. It is critically important during infancy for brain development. Very

low-fat diets are unhealthy.

Fat categories are saturated and unsaturated.

Unsaturated fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These

terms denote the number of double bonds between the carbon atoms in the

chemical structure. Unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated.

Polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are

essential fatty acids, meaning our body cannot make these, so we must get them

through our diet. You may be familiar with these as supplements, but they come

from foods such as nuts, seeds, and seafood. Omega-3 fatty acids are the

healthier of the two due to their anti-inflammatory effects. The recommended

ratio of omega-3:omega-6 fats to consume is 1:1 to 1:4. Typically our diet contains

far more omega-6 fatty acids through corn and safflower oils, coconut oil, and

processed foods. Too many omega-6 fatty acids can be unhealthy and lead to


Plant Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Saturated fats are the least healthy fats. They should comprise no more than 10%

of our diet. These fats are often solid at room temperature and include butter,

margarine, lard, high-fat dairy, and fat from meat and pork. Saturated fats are

contributors to heart disease, stroke, and high lipids.

The goal is not to eliminate fat from our diet but to consume healthy fats.

How do we do this?


1. Change cooking oils. Switch from corn, safflower, and seed oil to olive, avocado,

or walnut oil. Extra virgin olive oil is best but has a lower smoke point than

avocado oil, so avocado oil works better in air fryers.

Healthy Cooking Oils

2. Use pesto, hummus, or mashed avocado as a sandwich spread instead of butter or


3. Instead of commercial salad dressing, make your own with extra-virgin olive oil.

4. Eat seafood once or twice a week.

5. Make vegetarian meals each week instead of meals with meat.

6. Bake, broil, steam, air fry, or pan sauté rather than deep fry.

7. Choose poultry without the skin and lean cuts of beef or trim the fat.

8. Buy grass-fed rather than grain-fed beef.

9. Look for saturated fat substitutes when baking. These include avocado, ripened

bananas, yogurt, olive oil, and legumes. Recipes with these substitutes can be found on

cooking blogs.

10. Read food labels to choose items low in saturated fat.

These steps can significantly decrease your saturated fat intake. Your child’s diet should be

30% fat. Focus on the healthiest fats from plant and seafood sources and avoid the

unhealthy sources, primarily processed foods. You will reduce your child’s risk of

cardiovascular disease, stroke, and inflammation.

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