Types of Fats
Degumming, bleaching, and deodorizing are other processes that increase the shelf life of refined oils, while simultaneously removing the fatty acids, smells, flavors, and colors. Unrefined vegetable oils provide more nutrition without negative side effects for daily use; however, refining vegetable oils increases their smoke point. Ghee and butter are options for quality fats that are made with animal fats.
Sesame oil is made from pressed sesame seeds and comes in two varieties: light, which is made from raw seeds, and dark, which is made from toasted seeds. Dark sesame oil has a stronger flavor, so light sesame oil is better for babies. Sesame oil contains antioxidants, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, copper, iron, and magnesium. It is very high in the plant-based essential fatty acid, linoleic acid, which helps prevent inflammation and chronic disease. Sesame oil has a soothing, healing quality, resists oxidation, and is more stable than other oils. It can be used in cooking on high heat. Sesame oil has traditionally been used in Japan and China for skin care and cosmetics. Because of healing properties, I used sesame oil on my babies’ bottoms and for skin care, as well as in their food.
Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the purest and most natural form of olive oil. It comes from the first cold pressing of the olives, so it contains the highest amount of vitamin E and other antioxidants, and has extremely low acidity. The processing of olive oil does not require heat and is the only oil that can be truly cold-pressed, which is a chemical-free process using only pressure, and produces a higher quality of olive oil that is naturally lower in acidity. Virgin olive oil is equally nutritious and produced in the same way as extra virgin oil, but from lower grade olives; it has 0.5 percent higher acidity than extra virgin. You can cook with olive oil at low to medium heat or add it to raw or cooked foods.
Flaxseed oil and ground flaxseed meal provide the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids next to fish. It has soluble fiber, protein, omega-6 and omega-9 EFAs, B vitamins, and minerals. Almost all of your baby’s body systems benefit from flaxseed oil. It supports healing, builds immunity, increases energy and stamina, and protects against high blood pressure and inflammation. Flaxseed oil makes a healthy supplement, or you can give it to your baby medicinally for constipation. Add flaxseed oil to cooked or raw food, rather than cooking with it because it is expensive and should not be used at high heat, because it has a low smoke point.
Chia oil is made from chia seeds that are second to flaxseeds in their omega-3 content. Besides having a rich amount of these fats, chia seeds also have a healthy ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s. The seeds and oil are known for lubricating dryness, relieving constipation, reducing nervousness, treating insomnia, and improving mental focus.
Almond oil is a rich source of minerals and vitamins B and E; it also helps lower cholesterol. It has a high smoke point and can serve as a cooking oil, you can serve it raw on already prepared foods, or use it in baking. You can also use it on your baby’s skin for a massage or as a moisturizer. However, if your baby has an allergy or intolerance to nuts, he may have a reaction to almond oil.
Coconut oil is a healthy fat, despite its classification as a saturated fat. It contains lauric acid, which is found in breast milk, has antiviral qualities and supports brain function and the immune system. Lauric acid has been associated with increasing good (HDL) cholesterol. Coconut oil can be used in baking at temperatures up to 375ºF without becoming destabilized. Like almond oil, coconut oil has high amounts of vitamin E and is good for nourishing the skin.
Safflower oil is extracted from the seeds of the safflower plant. There are two types of safflower oil; one is rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and the other is rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). Both types are used for cooking, but (MUFA) is more prevalent, because it has a higher smoke point and is ideal for deep-frying. Safflower oil contains omega-6 fatty acids, and has a high content of linolenic acid, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Ghee is clarified butter that looks like liquid gold, and is commonly used in Indian cooking. It has a healthy ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s. With a high saturated fat content, ghee does not oxidize easily, and it has a high smoke point. Some lactose-intolerant people can consume ghee because it is low in lactose. Ghee has a long shelf life and does not need refrigeration.
Butter is a saturated fat that contains vitamins A and D. Organic, cultured, unsalted butter is easier to digest than salted butter, and it does not contain coloring or milk from cows treated with growth hormones. Conventional butter may contain food coloring, but the FDA does not allow butter to have other preservatives or additives. Butter’s lactose can cause allergic reactions in babies who are lactose intolerant. Therefore, it is recommended to wait until your baby is one year old to introduce butter.
Lard is pig fat that has been used as a shortening due to its high smoke point and its ability to produce flaky, moist pie crusts. To improve shelf stability, lard is often hydrogenated and treated with bleaching, deodorizing agents, emulsifiers, and antioxidants, such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT, or a chemical preservative). Many packaged baked snacks, including breakfast bars, cakes, and cookies contain lard as a shortening.
Canola oil is extracted from the rapeseed plant, which has been genetically modified for culinary purposes. A relatively new oil, canola was developed in Canada in the 1970s. Canola oil is a monounsaturated fat with a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids, but it goes through an intensive refining process that can raise the trans fat level as high as 40 percent. Even though canola oil is commonly used in cooking and many food products, it has also been used as an insect repellent and for other industrial applications. Due to the low cost of production, canola oil is used in many prepared foods. Check labels to see whether it is listed as an ingredient, and I suggest to avoid giving your baby foods made with canola oil in exchange for other, healthier alternatives.