Looking for a superfood that may help to boost your pregnancy in multiple ways? You may want to consider trying chia seed during pregnancy.
Chia seeds contain essential vitamins and nutrients, plus they’re so easy to incorporate into your diet on a daily basis. Just check out these chia seed recipes for pregnancy, and you’ll see how many delicious things you can make using chia seeds. Of course, these recipes are delicious and health-boosting for non-pregnant people as well! For example, chia seed pudding and chia seed pancakes are rich and satisfying, yet unlike many other sweet treats, they won’t leave you feeling sluggish and regretful.
Chia seeds are also easy to incorporate into your diet by adding them to yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies and salads. Do chia seeds need to be soaked before eating? It’s not an absolute “must,” but soaking chia seeds allows them to sprout, which makes them easier to digest and helps increase the amount of nutrients your body is able to absorb.
If you’re pregnant, consuming chia seeds can provide you and your growing baby with a healthy boost, and you’ll likely enjoy the seeds so much that you’ll keep eating them post-pregnancy, too.
Benefits of Chia Seed During Pregnancy
These tiny seeds pack such a nutritional punch that expectant mothers should consider incorporating them into their diets. Pregnancy can deplete your body of important nutrients, and eating chia seeds can help replace those lost nutrients while providing a much needed energy boost. Chia seeds are easy to incorporate into your daily routine and benefit not only the mother’s health, but the baby’s development as well.
You can eat chia seeds several ways, but soaking them before consumption is highly recommended, especially for a pregnant woman, whose digestive system is already being taxed more than usual.
Here are the top chia seeds benefits for pregnancy and why they’re among the best foods to include on a pregnancy diet:
1. Great Source of Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain development in babies, but unfortunately, most Western diets are low in these essential fatty acids. Many people choose to meet their daily requirements by consuming salmon or fish oil supplements, but consuming chia seed during pregnancy is a great plant-based way to up your omega-3 intake.
If you’re not going to soak chia seeds before eating them, the next best thing is to grind them, which also helps to make them more digestible and makes their omega-3s more readily available for your body and baby to make use of.
2. Replenish Lost Nutrients
Pregnancy is very taxing on the body. Chia seeds pack a powerful antioxidant punch and provide vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy pregnancy. They’re especially high in nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, potassium and iron.
During the final three months of pregnancy, it’s especially important to get adequate calcium for proper skeletal development. Chia seeds contain almost five times the amount of calcium as milk per gram, and as an added bonus, they also contain boron, manganese and vitamin A, all of which are critical minerals for bone health.
3. Help to Prevent Iron Deficiency
Insufficient iron intake during pregnancy can raise her infant’s risk of low birth weight, premature birth, low iron stores and impaired cognitive and behavioral development. Chia seeds are also a good source of iron, which is essential to develop the red blood cells that transport oxygen through the body. During pregnancy, increased iron intake is necessary to accommodate the mother’s increased blood volume and for the development of the baby’s blood.
4. Balance Blood Sugar
High blood sugar makes for a risky pregnancy. It’s been linked to complications such as high birth weight, increased chance of C-section deliveries and preeclampsia. Chia seeds are rich in fiber, which helps slow sugar absorption in the bloodstream and keep blood sugar levels steady.
5. Boost Energy Levels
Chia seed consumption for energy dates back to the Aztec civilization. The Aztecs even considered the seeds to be somewhat magical due to their impressive ability to increase stamina for long durations. The high healthy fat and protein content of chia seeds encourages a sustained energy boost and can help fight fatigue throughout the day, which is something a pregnant woman can benefit from, especially as her energy fluctuates throughout the course of her pregnancy.
6. Ward Off Constipation
Constipation is an extremely common complaint for pregnant women. The good news is chia seeds are a great natural constipation remedy, loaded with fiber that can help to prevent this health dilemma. Eating chia seeds during early pregnancy and chia seeds during third trimester weeks can be especially helpful when constipation is more likely to occur.
If you can avoid constipation, you will also be more likely to avoid the pain and irritation of hemorrhoids, another common pregnancy-related problem that can be brought on or made worse by constipation.
Side Effects and Precautions
Are chia seeds safe for pregnant women? Consuming chia seeds during pregnancy is generally safe as long as you eat them in moderation.
What are the side effects of eating chia seeds? Some people may experience stomach discomfort when consuming chia seeds if they don’t normally eat high-fiber foods or if they consume very large amounts of the fiber-rich seeds. As with any food, it’s always best to consume chia seeds in moderation.
Make sure to drink plenty of water with chia seeds, especially the raw version, because the seeds can absorb many times their weight in water. This is one of the reasons why it’s really best to soak and sprout chia seeds before consuming them.
How much chia seeds a day is safe? According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Eating one to two tablespoons of chia seeds a day is considered a healthy daily amount.” If you don’t generally eat high-fiber foods, maybe start off with half a tablespoon.
If you have any concerns regarding safety of chia seed during pregnancy or if you experience any unwanted side effects, speak with your doctor or midwife. To be on the safe side, you can also check with your healthcare provider before consuming chia seed during pregnancy.
Flax Seeds During Pregnancy?
You may also want to consider consuming flax seeds during pregnancy. Flax seeds are another rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and also contain many important nutrients with a similar nutrition profile to chia seeds. However, chia seeds contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds. In addition, chia seeds are higher in fiber and calcium than flax seeds.
You must eat flax seeds after soaking and sprouting or grinding them into a powder. After, they can be used very similarly to chia seeds.
Whether you choose to eat flax seeds, chia seeds or both during your pregnancy, it’s best to add them slowly to your diet since they are very high in fiber. If you consume too much too quickly, stomach discomfort may occur.
- Chia seeds are a superfood you can easily add to your favorite meals and snacks, such as yogurt, oatmeal, salads and healthy baked goods.
- Chia seeds can be consumed whole and raw, but it’s better to soak and sprout them first, or to grind them, so they are easier to digest and you can absorb their nutrients better.
- Consuming chia seed during pregnancy provides important nutrients for both mother and baby, including omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, potassium, iron and more.
- Flax seeds have a similar nutrient profile and benefits for pregnancy; you can use them in a similar fashion to chia seeds.
- Eating chia seed during pregnancy can help to boost energy levels, balance blood sugar, prevent iron deficiency and ward off or improve constipation and hemorrhoids.
- Check with your healthcare provider if you’re pregnant and feeling unsure about adding chia seeds to your diet. In general, one to two tablespoons daily is a safe amount for most people.