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?
HERE ARE THE TOP TEN STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
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
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.