When you are dealing with nut and dairy allergies, getting healthy fats in your diet is always a struggle. This is especially so for toddlers and children, who need a whole lot of healthy fats in their diet, to support healthy growth and development. Also, fats provide with all the essential fatty acids.
Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids-MUFA and PUFA respectively, the Essential fatty Acids i.e. EFAs which are Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are crucial for the overall growth and development of young children. A low fat diet is not a healthy option for especially for kids below two years of age.1
However, despite of all the restrictions we can still ensure a steady supply of these healthy fats in their diet.
Monounsaturated fats i.e. MUFAs and Polyunsaturated fats i.e. PUFAs
These fats are also a healthy source of fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K. They help in lowering the risk of heart diseases in adult life. Also, they help in reducing the LDL i.e. the bad cholesterol and boost the levels of heart healthy HDL i.e. the good cholesterol.
PUFAs like the Omega 3, Omega 6, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) etc are extremely essential for the growth, development and functioning of the brain and the nervous system.
How to include healthy fats in your diet?
Almost all the nuts are good source of MUFAs and healthy fats. Since, that option is out of question when you have nut allergies; here are other healthy options-
Include healthy cooking oils in your diet like
- Cold pressed Olive oil
- Cold pressed canola oil
- Flax seed oil
- Soy seed oil (non-hydrogenated)
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Vegetable oil
- Corn oil
- Hempseed oil
Snack on Seeds
- Seeds are less allergenic than the nuts and are packed with healthy MUFAs.
- Seeds are packed with antioxidants which protect our nervous system, help in strengthening the immune system and in maintaining optimum health.
- Plenty of fiber in seeds helps digestion and eases constipation.
- Including seeds in your diet helps in weight loss and in maintaining healthy weight.
- Seeds are the best plant sources of iron and zinc.
As healthy as the seeds are, pairing them with salt, sugar or chocolate kills their nutritive value!
You can snack on raw or toasted seeds, add them to your breakfast cereal, homemade breads, cakes and muffins, toss them in your salads, trail mixes, blend them into pesto, sauces and turn them into healthy dips.
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Flax seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Unlike its name; soy nuts are not nuts! They are actually roasted soy beans. These crunchy beans are a great snack. They are loaded with proteins, fiber and minerals like zinc, folate and potassium. They also contain lots of PUFAs.
Sea food differently!
Fish is yet another source of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) like the AFA , Omega 3, Omega and the docosahexaenoic acid aka DHA. Oily cold water fish like the salmon, tuna, cod, herring, mackerels, anchovies and sardines are best sources of the EFAs.
However, due to the possibility of heavy metals like mercury and lead polluting the fish, too much of fish is not good. FDA recommends that for safety reasons, fish should be eaten not more than twice a week.2
How you cook your fish will decide whether or not you will be able to reap its benefits. Deep frying fish by slathering it in breading and batter destroys the EFAs in the fish! That leaves you with nothing but, a calorie rich fattening food.
Steaming, broiling and grilling are the best ways of cooking the fish as they preserve the precious fish fats.
Fish is also great source of B vitamins, folate and iron.3
Fresh avocados and avocado oil are both good sources of healthy MUFAs. Also, avocados have less saturated fat (aka the BAD fat) as compared to olive oil and canola oil.4 The health benefits of avocados gives it the status of a ‘superfood’. Avocados are packed with vitamin E, folate, potassium and tons of antioxidants, that make our heart, brain and immune system healthy and strong.
Essential fatty acids are also present in some ‘Dark Green Leafy Veggies’ like spinach, mustard greens, collard greens and kale. Sneak in these healthy foods in your diet as salads, soups, with pasta or stuff them in rotis and parathas (Indian breads). Kale greens roughly torn with hands, tossed with little olive oil and baked in the oven turn into crispy kale chips which are healthy and good source of fat and fiber. They are also a great hit with kids!
- The Yale guide to children’s nutrition, William V. Tamborlane, Janet Z. Weiswasser, Yale University Press, 1997, pg no 53
- The Johns Hopkins University Textbook of Dyslipidemia, Peter O Kwiterovich, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2009, pg no 231
- Prevention Magazine’s Nutrition Advisor: The Ultimate Guide to the Health-Boosting and Health-Harming Factors in Your Diet, Mark Bricklin, The Editors of Prevention Magazine, Rodale, 1994, pg no 218
- User’s Guide to Good Fats and Bad Fats: Learn the Difference Between Fats That Make You Well and Fats That Make You Sick (Large Print 16pt), Marie Moneysmith, ReadHowYouWant.com, 2011, pg no 44