I am featuring Guest Blogger and fellow dietitian, Laura Belsito for this Grow with Nutrition Blog. After writing an excellent three part series about kids’ nutrition, cooking, nurturing healthy habits and improving your child’s digestive health, I asked Laura to blog about her top tips for back to school. Laura is featuring how to get more omega-3 fats on the menu!
Now that another year of school has begun, it’s important to start a routine early in the year by planning and preparing healthy meals and snacks. Proper nutrition can improve your child’s brain function, energy levels and moods at school.
Omega-3 fats are brain boosting fats that many Canadians do not eat enough of. There are three types of omga-3 fats; ALA, DHA and EPA. Studies show DHA is found in largest concentrations in the brain and has been shown to improve brain function in children with low levels (1).
How Many Omega-3s Do Your Kids Need?
Children ages 4 to 8 yrs
Require 0.9 grams of omega-3 daily
Children 9 to 13 yrs
Require 1.2 grams of omega-3 daily
And aim for at least 90 to 120 mg DHA of the total omega-3.
Laura’s Top Three Omega-3 Fat Tips for Your Menu
Adding these foods to your child’s menu and consuming them as a family on a weekly basis can be an easy way to reach the daily 90 to 120 mg of omega-3 your child needs.
1. Add seeds to yogurts, cereals, oats, salads and stir-fry
Seeds are an easy way to add omega-3 fats, protein and fibre to your child’s meals without dramatically altering the taste. Hemp seeds are small seeds that can be added to cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, salads, stir fry and even smoothies. Hemp seeds pack 2.5 gm of omega-3 fats in just 3 tablespoons. Others omega-3 rich seeds include ground flaxseed, chia seed and sunflower seeds.
2. Choose omega-3 enriched eggs
Omega-3 enriched eggs are an easy way to increase omega-3 intake and specifically DHA intake. One egg offers approximately 125mg of DHA. Serve omega-3 enriched eggs for breakfast or pack your child a hard-boiled egg or egg salad sandwich for lunch. These can be a healthy option filled with protein and healthy omega-3 fats.
3. Eat fish 1 to 2 times per week
It is important to eat fish on a regular basis because it is one of the best sources of omega-3 fats
(specifically DHA and EPA). Salmon also is a good source of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and high in protein. What’s an easy way to get your child to eat salmon? Use canned salmon for a salmon salad sandwich or try making salmon patties that your child can dip in their favourite sauces.
Laura’s Recipe Recommendation
Try the recipe for So Easy Salmon Patties from food.com. It’s a quick and easy omega-3 rich dish your kids will love!
This blog was written (with a few edits from Jane) for Grow with Nutrition by Laura Belsito who is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for pediatric nutrition. She completed a Bachelors Degree and a Master’s Degree in Applied Human Nutrition at the University of Guelph. Laura counsels clients at a family health team with a focus on pediatric nutrition. Laura loves working with children to help them grow to their full potential. Their smiles and positive attitudes motivate Laura to empower both children and their parents with healthy eating strategies.