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The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
The Health Benefits of Chia Seedsblog.timesunion.com

Chia seeds are a popular topic these days. Small and seemingly insignificant, can they really be as healthy as advertised? Well, yes and no.

They hail from Mexico and Guatemala where they were a staple in the diets of Aztecs and Mayans. Harvested for us, both kinds of seeds; black and white, are available for your use in your cooking and baking. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients and low in calories chia seeds can potentially help your pregnancy reach nutritional heights.

When you’re looking to increase your omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy, the chia seed is an easy addition. Actually, for every 100 grams, or about 3 ½ ounces, of chia seeds you can receive more than 17g of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha linolenic acid). Perfect for the brain and body benefits you receive from omega-3 fatty acid.

The chia seed contains the following vitamins and minerals too; calcium, magnesium and potassium and iron. But the chia seed is high in the mineral phosphor, which works as a phytate or a substance that will bind to calcium, magnesium and potassium making them unavailable for absorption. How frustrating, all those amazing nutrients, so essential during pregnancy and we can’t use them!

In addition to omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, the chia seed is high in antioxidants like kaemferol, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and quercetin. Quercetin, which is also found in red onions, fennel, cilantro and kale has a huge impact on the body. The antioxidant flavonoid quercetin can reduce inflammation in the body having a positive effect on reducing the symptoms of heart disease by improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. Quercetin can also help control cholesterol by reducing LDL cholesterol, helping sweep it from the body.

The antioxidant effects of chia seeds are greater in the darker seeds rather than the lighter ones. Similar to the way blueberries have higher antioxidant content than strawberries, both are perfect to eat, but blueberries are more powerful.

Chia seeds can also help reduce diabetes because it’s a low glycemic food, or one that won’t spike your blood sugar the way simple sugar can. Keeping your blood sugar level during pregnancy and beyond, even for children, is imperative for keeping your mood and energy levels steady, reducing the occurrence of fainting and lightheadedness. The chia seed can help reduce gestational diabetes in this way, a dangerous disease that will affect the mother and unborn baby.

Chia seeds are deceptively small but so easy to use! At my house I use them when I bake or cook; in pancakes, breads, cookies, granola bars and even on top of yogurt for breakfast. They bulk up when cooked and baked and add a great texture and chewiness to your food. If you’re interested in chia seeds pick up a package the next time you’re shopping. You’ll be astonished at how easy they are to use and the difference they’ll make in your diet.