Helping our children learn to eat well and to enjoy a variety of foods is a big responsibility for parents, but it is oh-so important.

Reducing asthma risk in kids

Child Eating Watermelon Child Eating Watermelon Child Eating Watermelon

Helping our children learn to eat well and to enjoy a variety of foods is a big responsibility for parents, but it is oh-so important. You are providing your children with the knowledge of and appreciation for foods that can help them grow to their full potential, do well in school, as well as to potentially reduce risk of developing chronic diseases later in life. Here is some interesting information from a Swedish study of 940 children, their risk for developing asthma, and protective link to certain dietary fats.

Study results:

Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet reduced asthma risk by age 16. Sources include:

  • Fatty fish – salmon, trout, tuna and sardines
  • Nuts, especially walnuts
  • Oils such as canola, soybean and flaxseed

Omega-6 fatty acids in the diet also reduced children's risk for asthma. Sources include:

  • Oils such as grapeseed, safflower, and sunflower
  • Nuts such as pine nuts, Brazil, and pecans

Overall family meal planning should include a balance of five primary foods groups:

  • Protein – nuts, nut butters and fish provide the healthy fatty acids
  • Starch
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Dairy
  • Fatty condiments – oils will have the healthful fatty acids

This is the hitch with meal planning, isn’t it - getting your kids to eat a wide variety of foods. But if you don’t serve a varied array of foods, they won’t even have the opportunity to try or taste different foods, and expand their tastes.

  • Adding different oils can be easy when you cook, sauté foods, make salad dressings or baste items.
  • Nuts and nut butters can fit in well too. Nuts are a great addition to certain vegetable dishes, as well as salads. Nut butters, of course, are good for sandwiches or on toast at breakfast.
  • Fish is the tricky one, though, but even if your children turn up their noses, continue to prepare fish in a variety of ways. You may want to start with the milder fish such as halibut, cod, or flounder and then move up to the oilier fish like tuna.

Making an effort to include a variety of fatty acids is worth it if it has the potential to reduce your child’s risk for developing asthma in the teen years.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.