Visible vs. Invisible Fat
An important fact to remember is that fat can be ‘visible’ (oils, butter, cream in milk), or ‘invisible’ as present in cereals, nuts, fruits and vegetables. So, even if you do not any add fat/oil in your cooking, your family will still get some fat! A good thumb rule to follow is to ensure that no more than 60% of fat should be from visible fat. (So, in the example of the 11-year-old boy quoted above, he should not get more than 40 gms (8 teaspoons) as visible fat). You can improve the visible fat component by making more snacks at home, restricting fast foods, switching to low fat milk, and using the right combination of oils for cooking. Keep in mind, too, that girls older than 12 require less fat in their diets.
Are some fats lacking in children’s diets?
A few studies on fatty acid intake done in the country indicate that while the intake of omega 6 is probably sufficient, there is an unsatisfactory intake of omega 3. Sheela Krishnaswamy, a leading nutritionist and wellness consultant in Bangalore says, “It is important to include nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, oilseeds like sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, fish and leafy vegetables to increase the essential fatty acid intake in Indian children.” She suggests replacing plain butter with peanut butter or tahini (paste made with sesame seeds, popular in Middle Eastern cuisines), using almonds and walnuts in cereals, milkshakes and desserts, makingrolls and sandwiches with grilled fish and greens as fillings, to enhance the fatty acid intake in children.
The country’s expert panel (Indian Council of Medical Research) recently revised the fat recommendation for Indians, with special mention given to long chain fatty acids. While the body can make long chain omega 3 fatty acids(DHA) from the base material of short chain omega 3 (found in walnuts, soya bean, flax seeds), the conversion is slow and varies considerably from person to person. To ensure that the body has adequate long chain omega 3, children
and adults should consume oily fish twice a week. Ve
getarians should use mustard or canola oil for cooking and include nuts like walnuts, roasted flaxseeds incereals, salads, homemade cakes and bread. Check with your doctor/dieticians about using DHA supplements as it might be difficult to meet requirements solely from a vegetarian diet.
It is important to include nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, oilseeds like sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, fish and leafy vegetables to increase the essential fatty acid intake in Indian children. Sheela Krishnaswamy, a leading nutritionist and wellness consultant