By Sarah Smith, Accredited Practising Dietitian
FB Bayside Dietetics
One of my toddler clients this week told me she loved Brussels Sprouts and cabbage but didn’t like chips. I wonder how we get such strong food preferences so young (and I still wonder how anyone doesn’t like hot chips… yet likes cabbage??!). But the focus in this blog is for parents with kids that don’t like fish – while fish really is great for our kids, but a lot of kids don’t like it. If they don’t eat it, they are likely to be missing out on a key nutrient known as omega 3.
What is omega 3 and why is it so good for us?
Omega 3 is a type of fat. In children it is important for heart and brain health and may be helpful for mood, behaviour and eye health.
Are there any other sources than fish?
Get this…one of the latest food trends (among adults) provides a good source of omega 3 and that’s edamame beans. Along with sprouted radish sprouts and winter squash, they are one of the few vegetables that provide omega 3. Only around ½ cup needs to be consumed for a decent amount of omega 3 (less for toddlers and babies). Here is how some of this can be offered to kids:
The heavy hitters for omega 3 are seeds and nuts with several in particular being the best sources: flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. The best opportunities to offer these to your child come through mixing through a porridge, yoghurt or smoothie.
Alternatively, baking can provide good opportunities such as:
Chia seed muffins
Or flaxseed crackers
Crumbing offers another way to incorporate flaxseeds or chia seeds. Add some to your breadcrumb mix when next doing homemade fish fingers or chicken nuggets.
Otherwise you can purchase flaxseed oil and use it to replace eggs in a recipe. The oil is where the omega 3 exists, so it’s a potent source.
There are several legumes with omega 3. They are pinto beans, navy beans, black-eye peas (Where is the love?), soy beans and tofu, which is made from soy beans. Soy drinks contain small amounts of omega 3.
Some dairy products and eggs are now designed to have more omega 3. These are specialised and more expensive products that will be labelled to show the added omega 3. A couple of currently available brands are shown below.
How much and how often should our kids be eating it?
Ideally kids should be having small amounts of omega 3 daily.
What about supplements?
This is a controversial one and the supplement companies will make sure any studies that support fish oil (omega 3) supplements are seen by the public. However, when you look at all the studies that have been done on fish oil supplements the outcome is, well, unclear. Fish oil supplements help to make positive changes to thing like cholesterol in the blood, but whether this actually improves health, and whether it makes a difference in children, is not well understood. So I’m on the fence on this one, with a preference of introducing omega 3 through foods as above. I do recommend weighing up for yourself the potential but unproven benefits of supplements, with how much they cost and how hard it is to get your child to take them! Please always ensure your child is following a dose recommended for children.
I hope in contrast this fishy article wasn’t too hard to swallow.
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