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The Safest Oils to Cook with for Toddlers

by Eliza Martinez, studioD

Fat isn't necessarily the big, bad, scary thing that many people believe it is. In fact, toddlers need fat to help their brains and bodies grow and develop. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to avoid restricting fat during the first two years of life. The key is to choose healthy fats, which protect your child's health. Go for unsaturated fats and limit trans and saturated fats as much as possible.

Canola Oil

Canola has a light flavor that pairs well with many foods, and it's less expensive than some other types of oil available at the supermarket. It contains unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. The American Dietetic Association recommends using canola oil when you saute or stir-fry and in place of butter in some types of recipes. Use a bit of canola oil to cook chicken with snow peas or to make lean beef with broccoli for your toddler's dinner. Use canola oil instead of melted butter when you make muffins, pancakes or bread for your toddler's breakfast.

Olive Oil

Olive oil contains antioxidants, which fight free-radical damage and protect against several health conditions. It ranges in flavor from mild to intense and works well for cooking. "Eating Well" magazine recommends virgin olive oil, which is less processed and contains more health benefits. Use olive oil in marinades and brush them on meat or seafood before cooking them for your toddler. Add it to homemade salad dressing and dip for your little one to dunk her vegetables in. You can also use olive oil in place of butter when you bake, suggests the American Dietetic Association.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil has a nutty flavor, which enhances the taste of many foods. It is also high in omega fatty acids, which helps control your toddler's cholesterol and protects her heart. It has a stronger taste than other types of oil, so use it in small amounts to keep from overwhelming your little one with an intense smell or flavor. Use a bit of sesame oil to cook vegetables and drizzle it on salad, chicken or fish before serving it to your toddler.

Peanut Oil

Unless your toddler has a peanut allergy, peanut oil is a healthy way to increase her intake of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that protects her overall health, including cholesterol levels. Use it to saute meats and vegetables or to make salad dressing, marinades or dips. It also works for deep-frying but might not be the best choice for baking. Peanut oil goes rancid more quickly than other types of oil, so be sure to buy it in small quantities you can use before it goes bad.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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