top of page

Healthy fats for yours and your child's healthy brain

Good quality fats are very important for the brain development from early stage of life and support its health till the late stage fo our life.

'We are what we eat' Since the brain consists of 60% fat, maybe it is worth paying attention to what fats and in what amount our child eats to assure their great memory, concentration and a good mood? :)

Our foods contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, saturated and trans fats. Among the polyunsaturated fats we have the so-called essential unsaturated fatty acids (EFAs), which we must provide in the diet, because our body is unable to produce them itself. They are represented by omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The basic omega-3 acid is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) - a precursor to DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). On the other hand, the basic acid from the omega-6 group is LA (linoleic) acid - a precursor of DGLA acid and arachidonic acid (AA). They play a very important role in our body, e.g. by participating in the production of pro and anti-inflammatory substances during inflammation, but they are also the most important fats in brain development.

Each type of fat, apart from trans fat, the form of which is not found naturally in nature, should be included in child's daily diet.

Omega -3 and omega-6 fatty acids play a role in the development of neurons, interactions between synapses, regulate genes responsible for the division and growth of nerve cells, have an anti-inflammatory effect and protect against oxidative stress.

30% of fat in the brain is DHA (one of the types of omega-3), which are very important at the stage of fetal development. Research shows that while supplementing fish oil in the prenatal period and during lactation with high levels of DHA helped their babies start - raising their IQ and increasing psychomotor development. DHA is also necessary for the maturation of the retina and the visual cortex, enhancing visual acuity. Other studies, on the other hand, show that supplementation with fish oil containing a high dose of DHA helps to reduce the symptoms of autism or ADHD (> 800 mg of DHA daily).

DHA is mainly found in fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout, herring, anchovies) and fish fish, so it is worth introducing them to the diet of our children, already during the prenatal period. It is recommended that children under the age of 1 eat fish once a week (after introducing solid food), the older ones 2 times a week, adults need 3 portions of fish to ensure adequate DHA. If we do not like fish or eat little, it is worth supplementing our diet with cod liver oil supplementation. Breast milk is also a great source of DHA, which is why it is one of the reasons it is worth to breastfeed your baby.

Our body is able to produce EPA and DHA fatty acids itself from omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) of plant origin. Flaxseed, linseed oil, unrefined sesame oil, avocados, seeds and nuts (especially walnuts resembling the brain) are great sources of them. To optimize this conversion, the optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in your diet should be 3: 1. Olive oil is one of the best sources of omega-6, but so are nuts, grains and poultry.

Another important fat is cholesterol. 30% of the body's cholesterol is found in the brain, and its role is significant for the development of cognitive functions and good memory, it also protects nerve cells from damage. The best source of cholesterol is egg yolks, which are worth introducing into your daily diet, but also butter. Cholesterol is also a precursor of steroid hormones and vitamin D in the body and vitamin D influences the mood, immunity and well-being of our child.

It is also worth mentioning lecithin, it is not a fat, but a phospholipid. It is a source of choline and inositol, which affect the efficiency of hearing and speech, protect and nourish nerve cells, and improve memory and learning speed. Lecithin also helps in the absorption of fats. In children with autism, decreased hyperactivity was noticed after lecithin supplementation. And here again, egg yolk plays a great role as its source, soy lecithin is very popular on the market due to the lower cost of production, it can also be found in legumes, liver, cod and spinach. Before a difficult exam, it is worth ensuring an adequate amount of choline in the diet, which will speed up learning quickly and improve memory.

30-40% of calories in children 1-3 years old should be fat (7 g LA, 0.7 g ALA) in older children 25-35% (10-16 g LA, 0.9-1.6 g ALA)

How to ensure its proper quantity and quality?

  • Eating fatty fish 3 times a week (younger children 1-2 servings)

  • Eating egg yolks (or whole egg yolks) - daily, from organic farming

  • Eating nuts, seeds for a snack, grounded added to porridge

  • Preparing tasty desserts for children based on avocado, coconut milk, peanut butter (also almond butter, cashew nuts)

  • Using butter instead of margarine

  • By storing linseed oil, ground seeds, and fish oil in the refrigerator (due to the ease of oxidation)

  • Choosing the appropriate quality fish oil, meeting the relevant standards, from a known source (information that it is fish oil is not enough), with a high content of EPA and DHA acids

  • By frying in clarified butter, coconut oil, goose fat, olive oil (at low temperature)

  • choosing organic meat, eggs, nuts, oils, because fat accumulates the most toxins, including antibiotics

7 views0 comments


bottom of page