Ghee for children: A rich source of nutrients or an enemy of good health?

Ghee for children: A rich source of nutrients or an enemy of good health?

Deciding whether a certain food item is nutritious or not, can be challenging at times. And ghee is one such food. It has been subjected to controversy for many years as it is a widely used fat source in India. For centuries, pure homemade ghee has been an essential part of the Indian diet and is used in many sweet and savoury dishes. From providing extra flavour to your daal to adding deliciousness to a dry roti, ghee has many roles to play. However, with many refined cooking oils flooding the market currently, people have started to question the healthiness and nutritive value of ghee.

So, today, some people believe that ghee is beneficial for children and can be easily digested, and others believe that ghee should be avoided by kids. The truth, however, can be found somewhere in the middle.

Ghee: Myths vs. Facts

Myth 1: Desi ghee is harmful for health

Although there have been some rumours about ghee being bad for health in the last couple of decades, this is simply not true. Around 32% of the fat in pure ghee is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which is known as ‘good fat’.

Plus, ghee comes with numerous health benefits. It contains fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D E and K, which promote healthy bone and brain development in children. Additionally, ghee has a higher smoking point than a lot of cooking oils. This means, it doesn’t break down into free radicals. Free radicals can have major side effects on your child’s body and might even cause respiratory issues.

Myth 2: Ghee causes childhood obesity

Parents are often wary about giving ghee to their children because they fear it might lead to weight gain and obesity. In truth, ghee is lipolytic by nature, which means, it actually breaks down the fat present in other foods, thereby improving digestion and overall health. Ghee is also rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is good for the heart and aids in weight loss. So, when consumed in moderate amounts, ghee actually stimulates digestion and helps in weight control.

Myth 3: Children can digest any quantity of ghee

There are people who go to the other extreme. They believe that because ghee is good for their children, they can consume any amount of ghee. However, any food when consumed in excess can cause harm, and ghee is certainly no exception. At the end of the day, ghee does contain high amounts of fat, so portion control is important.

So, should ghee be a part of your child’s diet?

Yes, ghee contains a host of rich nutrients that your growing child needs on a daily basis. At the same time, there are certain things you should keep in mind while including ghee in your child’s diet. Such as:

Daily quantity of ghee for kids

As per the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), an average toddler needs anywhere between 1000 to 1500 calories per day, and 30% of this should come from fats. However, it’s important to keep in mind that ghee is far from the only source of fat for your child. Chances are, your child is also consuming other fatty foods like milk and cheese. So, you should keep the quantity of ghee in check. Ideally, toddlers shouldn’t be given more than 1 tablespoon of ghee in a day, while slightly older children can be given 2-3 tablespoons per day.

How to include ghee in your child’s diet?

The best way to include ghee in your child’s diet is by using time-tested recipes.

  • A little bit of ghee can be added to a bowl of piping hot daal and enjoyed with rice.
  • Another all-time favourite is adding ghee and jaggery powder to a roti and rolling it up for your child as a midday or evening snack.
  • Atta halwa is another delicious and healthy recipe that most kids love. Simply heat 1 tsp of ghee and roast 2 tsp of atta (whole-wheat flour) in the ghee. Once the atta is golden-brown in colour, add 1.5 cups of hot water. Keep stirring till the water gets absorbed and the halwa is ready.

Wrapping up

Despite the controversy surrounding it, ghee is an original Indian superfood. It is absolutely vital for the proper development of your child. As long as you stick to moderate quantities, there is no reason why ghee shouldn’t be a part of your child’s daily diet.