Chia seeds have been considered a dietary supplement by Native Americans for centuries, but it’s only been recently that they’ve become more mainstream. And for very good reason! Learn more about them, and how consuming them can benefit both you and your baby. We’ll also be sharing some recipes that will help you easily incorporate these powerful little seeds into your diet.
What is Chia?
Edible seeds of the mint family, chia seeds are very low in calories, but very high in nutrients. In fact, these seeds are so rich in antioxidants that they can be stored for up to four years before losing their nutritional value. They can be added to a number of foods, including soups, smoothies, and casseroles. They expand when added to liquid.
Benefits of Chia
As previously mentioned, chia seeds are extremely high in nutrients, including omega-3, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, protein, copper, zinc, iron, niacin, fiber, boron, and calcium. Let’s take a closer look at what that means for you and baby.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain health and development—not just for you, but also for your baby. You can get this vital nutrient in fish, fish oil supplements, or in nuts, but fish contains mercury, and most nuts have a very high fat content. In contrast, chia contains no mercury, has a low fat content, and can be stored for up to four years.
- Your calcium intake is vital to the skeletal development of your baby, especially in the last trimester. Chia seeds contain five times as much calcium as milk, and they contain boron, another important critical nutrient for healthy bones.
- Iron is needed to develop red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout the body. An increase in this nutrient is essential during pregnancy to accommodate the increase in blood flow and volume needed to grow and help baby supply his or her own red blood cells. Unfortunately, many women struggle with iron intake. Chia seeds can help!
- Fiber is another important nutrient during pregnancy. It can help to curb irregularity issues, but it can also reduce your chances of developing gestational diabetes. Just one ounce of chia seeds can give you 11 grams of fiber, and all with the benefit of being low-fat and low-carb!
- Other benefits of chia seeds include slower sugar absorption (due to the gelatin-like substance they create in the stomach), and improved energy (protein and slowing of sugars being converted to carbs). Both can provide you with more energy and reduce your risk for common pregnancy issues problems like gestational diabetes, excessive weight gain, and pre-eclampsia.
Incorporating Chia into Your Diet
One of the best things about adding chia to your diet is that these seeds are extremely versatile! They can be added to soups, chilis, salads, breads, casseroles, breading, smoothies, juices, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, and so much more! You can even add them to sweets!
- 12 oz cold, fresh drinking water
- 1 large lemon or 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons sugar or sweetener of choice
- one teaspoon fresh chia seed
Add the lemon juice to your water, and then sweeten to taste. Stir the chia seeds in, and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally, and add lemon to garnish.
Very Berry Chia Smoothie:
- 1/4 cup each blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
- 1/2 oz chia seeds
- 1/2 banana
- 1 large handful of fresh spinach
- Almond, soy, rice, or coconut milk
Add berries, banana, spinach, and chia seeds to a blender. Add milk to cover bottom of the blender. Mix well. Add more milk until smoothie has reached desired consistency.
- 1 handful of fresh spinach
- 1 handful of organic, mixed greens
- 2 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 apple, cored and chopped (eat the rest on the side or for a snack!)
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/4 cup cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 oz chia seeds
- vinaigrette dressing
Toss spinach, greens, radishes, apple, avocado, and cucumber. Top with chia seeds and vinaigrette dressing.
Chia Yogurt Parfait
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/8 cup granola
- 1/2 oz chia seeds
- Fruit of your choice
Top yogurt with granola, chia seeds, and fruit. Alternatively, you can blend in the fruit with an immersion blender.
Apple Cinnamon Chia Oatmeal
- 1 cup water
- 2/3 cup rolled oats
- 1 apple, cored and chopped
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
- 1/2 ounce chia seeds
- Almond, rice, soy, coconut, or low-fat milk
Bring water to a boil. Add in oats and apples and cook until apples are soft. Add cinnamon, honey or agave, and chia seeds. Mix well. Top with milk.