Functions of fats in a balanced diet
Fats are one of the most crucial, long lasting energy sources for the body. The energy we get from fats cannot be compared with other nutrients. Their efficiency does a world of wonders for our bodies. Carbohydrates are also a major source of energy. But compared to them, fats provide more energy and at a faster rate. Fats are a concentrated energy source. They comprise 9 calories per gram, which is basically more than double the calories in carbohydrates and protein in our diets. This makes them the most calorie-dense substance in food. While this is not necessarily considered a benefit in today’s society, the ability to produce energy-dense foods is still required in many places of the world. Fat is an excellent way to get calories when you need them in the right amount.
Why Is Fat Essential?
Fat is essential for the absorption and storage of several vitamins we consume. Vitamins A, D, E, and K, sometimes known as fat-soluble vitamins, cannot function without sufficient fat consumption on a daily basis. These vitamins have utmost importance in your everyday diet. We need them for healthy bones, eye health, blood clotting, strong bones and so much more. Fat cells majorly store in the adipose tissue. With this, they help in insulating our bodies. Moreover, this helps in maintaining a normal body temperature. As it is underneath the skin, it renders protection against a rapid heat loss to our bodies.
Fats are essential for making foods satisfying, larger and making us feel full. High-fat foods linger in the stomach longer and delay the sense of hunger. This is because fats take longer to break down than carbohydrates or proteins. So they are also a good meal for a long work day.
In this blog, Coriander leaf will tell you more about fat consumption and how it varies for adults and children.
Healthy fat consumption
As important as fats are for everyone, their consumption has to be in a recommended and appropriate amount. There is no given and prescribed amount that goes for everyone. However it is often recommended that at least 20 to 30 percent of your daily calories come from fats. That figure, however, varies based on a person’s degree of activity and overall health. Women with hormonal issues, for example, sometimes require more or less fat than women with balanced hormones. Saturated fat and cholesterol, in particular, provide satiety and are the building blocks of hormones. So, if you have a hormonal imbalance or problems, you need to increase your fat consumption.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are the two main forms of healthy fats. Both of these fats are unsaturated, preventing them from being completely saturated with hydrogen molecules. In practical terms, these fats are normally liquid at room temperature and are present in plant meals as well as some seafood. They also link to a variety of health benefits, including enhanced heart and brain health, hormone balance, and reduced inflammation.
Importance of Fat
Fat is extremely necessary to construct cell membranes, each cell’s essential exterior, and the sheaths that surround nerves. Important body functions like blood coagulation, muscle action, and inflammation all require it. A few fats are better for long haul wellbeing than others.
All fats in your diet, whether healthy or not, come under the total fat gram recommendation. However, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, also known as PUFAs and MUFAs, should account for nearly all of the fat you consume. They help you in lowering your cholesterol level and protect your heart. As a plus point, these are also readily and easily available. MUFAs are available in olive oil, olives, hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, avocados, pork, beef etc. PUFAs are present in most plant and animal foods like chia seeds, salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts etc. Most of them are already included in our diets and their healthy intake is hardly ever an issue.
Nutritional requirements for children
The wholesome prerequisites of grown-ups and youngsters are comparable here and there. Vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, and fat are all essential nutrients for everyone. Children, on the other hand, require various amounts of essential nutrients depending on their age.
Children’s bodies are constantly in an overdrive, busy growing, developing, and maturing all of the organs and systems that will eventually transform them into healthy adults. As children develop and grow bigger, their energy, water, and oxygen requirements increase. Younger bodies also absorb nutrients from diets much faster than older bodies. A good and balanced diet helps to stabilise energy, sharpen wits, and smooth out moods in addition to feeding energetic youthful bodies. This clearly implies how children’s needs are going to be different. This further implies that their nutrient intake will also vary from that of adults.
The first few years of life are primarily all about tremendous growth and development. During the infancy and early childhood, the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, adipose tissue, and brain are still developing. Between birth and the age of three, an average child’s body size doubles and his or her weight grows even more. The relative nutritional requirements of a child are considerable due to this rapid growth and development.
Children require more fats than adults
Little kids and children have more energy than both their parents combined. From playing all day to crying and attending school, they have energy for all of it. Even with growth and development they are competing with adults and winning at it.
When infants are between the ages of 9 and 15 months, they consume 50% more energy in one day than adults. Their brains and organs are constantly working and therefore they require even more energy than teenagers, young adults and elders as well.
But then again, children also burn out very quickly. They also have much higher metabolism rates as compared to people of other age groups. If they do not obtain enough calories, their rapid metabolisms make them prone to stunted growth and sickness. Their body cells also digest medications more quickly than adults’, which directly implies more frequent dosage. Adults over 60, on the other hand, begin to use less energy daily than younger people, necessitating less food or lower medicine doses, especially at the age of 90, when they consume 26% less energy than middle-aged persons.
Children's metabolic rates
According to the many researches conducted by scientists, infants have the same metabolism rates as their mothers at birth, adjusting to their body size. Then afterwards, between nine and fifteen months, their metabolism rates become more active and their cells start to burn energy faster. Children’s metabolic rates remain high until they reach the age of five, after which they gradually decline until they reach around the age of twenty and become adults. Adult rates remain steady until the age of 60, and then they begin to drop. Humans utilise roughly 26% less energy on a daily basis after the age of 90.
All of this comes down to the point that children’s bodies vary greatly from that of adults. Therefore, it makes it very obvious that with more energy they burn, their bodies have to make up for it. This extra energy will come from extra fat intake. Not only does that provide extra energy, it also aids in healthy growth and development.
In their primary and most crucial year of maturation, fats are the source that provide the necessary fuel. Again, as people, children also need extra care for their brain, health, bones, eyes etc which they get from food sources of fats.
Essential fatty acids and some fat-soluble vitamins are obtained by consuming modest amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated spreads and oils, as well as tiny amounts of nuts and seeds. Unsaturated fat, on the other hand, is high in energy (kilojoules), thus it’s necessary to limit children’s intake to keep your total energy needs in check. Specialists, doctors and paediatricians recommend the following for school-aged children:
- Adolescents 14-18 years of age should have 2 servings (14-20g) every day.
- 1 ½ serves (11-15g) per day for children 12-13 years
- For children aged 3 to 12, one serving (7-10g) per day is recommended.
Healthy fat intake for children
To help them grow, all toddlers, children and kids, require fat in their diet. For appropriate brain and body development, fats essentially make up half of an infant and toddler’s daily calories until the age of two, therefore it’s crucial to include healthier fats at most meals and snacks.
The optimal and sufficient fat intake for a child varies based on activity intensity in a day, muscular mass and weight, and age. These factors help to determine a suitable calorie range, which in turn helps to determine daily fat consumption for the said child. Usually most children between the ages of 2 and 3 require 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day. This rises to 1,200 to 2,000 when they grow up to be around 4-8 years old. From the ages of 9 to 13, this number further rises to 1,600 to 2,600. Doctors and specialists always prescribe that 25 to 35 percent of these calories should come from fat. 420 calories make about 30% of a 1,400 calorie diet. Because fat has 9 calories per gram, this is roughly 47 grams of fat. However, a child’s proper and appropriate fat intake depends upon his or her calorie requirement.
As we also previously discussed, there is a type of fats that is “healthy fats” consisting of polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids. Most of a child’s fat intake should come from them only, Nuts and nut butters, avocados, olive oil, and oily fish like salmon are all good sources of healthy fats. Fried foods, fatty meats, and foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil are all unhealthy sources.
According to specialists and paediatricians, healthy omega-3 fats are especially important for children’s health. Greasy fish, like salmon and fish, contain omega-3 unsaturated fats. These are also present in beef, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. For dairy products and milk, yoghurt, eggs juice etc their omega 3 information is usually present in their packaging and can vary. The need for omega-3 fatty acids in children grows as they become older. The recommended adequate intake is about half a gram daily, which increases slightly for toddlers and preschoolers. For youngsters aged 4 and up, the recommended adequate intake is around 1 gram each day.
Because younger children require more fat than older children, teens, and adults, full fat milk products such as homogenised milk and yoghurt are of great benefit to them. Despite the fact that these meals include some saturated fats. These meals also include crucial minerals for children’s growth, such as calcium. Saturated fat accounts for more than 10% of a child’s, teen’s, or adult’s daily calories. Saturated fats, such as butter, hard margarine, lard, and shortening, are avoided. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can satisfy the rest of their fat requirements. Canola, flaxseed, olive, peanut, soybean, or sunflower oils are examples of unsaturated fat. Salad dressings, spreads, dips, margarine, and mayonnaise all include them.
However, as there are two sides to every coin, there are certain disadvantages to fats as well. Children are very inclined to consume junk food and harmful fatty acids. “Bad” fats are those that are saturated or trans. In the human body, they raise the risk of disease and are especially for children. Long-term research shows that replacing saturated fat with good fats, particularly polyunsaturated fats, improves health. A healthy diet requires the consumption of the proper types and amounts of fat. However, many children consume too much fat, which contributes to undesired and unhealthy weight gain. Excess weight in children increases the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other medical issues.
Fast food, takeaway, and junk food such as hot chips, potato chips, dim sims, pies, burgers, and takeaway pizza are among the foods that cause harm. Cakes, chocolate, lollipops, biscuits, doughnuts, and pastries are also among them.
They are usually heavy in sodium, saturated fat, and sugar, as well as deficient in fibre. Consuming these meals on a regular basis majorly increases the chance of developing health problems such as childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Fruit juice, cordials, sports drinks, flavoured waters, soft drinks, and flavoured milks are examples of sweet drinks. These sweet and sugary drinks are low in nutrition and heavy in sugar. Too many sweet drinks often lead to weight gain, obesity, and tooth damage, all of which are undesirable. These drinks satisfy children’s cravings but make them less likely to eat healthy and beneficial meals. Caffeine-containing foods and beverages are not suggested for youngsters because caffeine inhibits calcium absorption. Caffeine is also a stimulant, meaning it offers children a boost of energy. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, and chocolate are among these meals and beverages.
Fat adds flavour and texture to food, but it’s also high in calories, and eating too much of it can lead to a variety of health issues. Fast food, fried meals, and snacks are high in fat for children and teenagers. High-fat dairy products (such as whole milk, cheese, cream, and butter) and high-fat meats also cause obesity in children (like bacon, hot dogs, and fattier cuts of red meat).
Healthy fats are an essential component of a balanced diet for both children and adults. It is critical for growth and development to consume sufficient amounts of healthy fats. For appropriate brain development, young children require a sufficient amount of them in their diet.
Coriander leaf has some tips for children’s healthy fat intake. Fruits and vegetables, healthy grains, lean meats and fish, and low-fat dairy products are examples of naturally low-fat foods. Their direct intake will be really healthy for kids. When cooking meals, utilise healthier, unsaturated fats.
Choose from a variety of food sources, such as skinless lean beef and chicken, omega-3-rich fish and seafood, and vegetarian options like beans and nuts.
Broiling, grilling, or roasting meat, fish, or fowl are all good options and methods that allow fat to drain away from the food while cooking, reducing calories. Frying, on the other hand, results in the addition of fat. Children often tend to consume extra fried foods from fast food places and that is really harmful with the extra unhealthy fat it adds.
For all kids and children over the age of two, replace full-fat dairy foods with reduced or low-fat dairy items. Also try to replace butter with canola, sunflower, or olive oil margarine spread. Instead of frying, bake, roast, or steam food whenever feasible. There is always the option to trim visible fat from meat, remove the skin off chicken, and avoid processed meat as much as possible (e.g. sausages and salami). Children also need to eat less cakes, pastries, biscuits, and high-fat snacks like chips. Parents and kids are responsible for letting kids to think of these foods as special occasions rather than routine meals.
Fats are often majorly villainized as a nutrient all over the world. It is understandable that they sometimes cause harm when taken in an inappropriate way and amount. But it is important to consider the benefits that also come with fats. As important as they are for adults, they become even more essential for toddlers and children.
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog and got what you were looking for. For more important and insightful information check out more blogs by Coriander leaf.