The Power of Fats
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vital to the healthy function of your baby’s immune and nervous systems and heart. Healthy fats help his body absorb vitamins, aid in hormone production, and insulate his nerves. They also create energy and are essential for the growth and development of his brain and body. Essential fatty acids refer to fats and oils that need to be included in your baby’s diet, because his body must have them but cannot produce them.
“Essential fatty acids regulate body functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility, conception, and immunity. They are particularly important for children in relation to their neural development and the maturation of their sensory systems.”
They also stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, and regulate metabolism. Omega-3 and omega-6 are two important EFAs that support many biological functions, such as the manufacture and repair of cell membranes and expulsion of harmful waste products. Omega-9 is not considered an EFA because the body can produce it, as long as omega-3 and omega-6 are present. A deficiency in EFAs can lead to slow growth in infants and children, susceptibility to infection, and slow healing
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in flaxseeds, chia seeds, cod-liver oil, walnuts, freshly ground wheat germ, and salmon. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in a variety of oils, including sesame oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil. Dried beans, such as Great Northern, kidney, navy, and soybeans, contain small amounts of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Healthy fats support your baby’s physical, emotional, and mental growth and development. These fats supply essential nutrients through nature’s most concentrated source of energy. They build the membranes around every cell in his body, they are critical for the development of the brain, and they play a role in the formation of hormones.
Fats keep skin, joints, and blood vessels lubricated; they hold vital organs in place, providing insulation and warmth during temperature changes. Healthy fats offer vitamin E, which is important in promoting blood flow, preventing clotting, and boosting your baby’s immune system. Eating healthy fats also provides sustained energy and creates a soothing, satisfied feeling. Cooking with fats adds a depth of flavor to food.