Chia seeds. Are they a fad food? What are they good for?
In our clinic at Promise Community Health Center, we talk chia almost every day.
Did you know these tiny, black-and-white seeds — formerly known only as starter to growing your favorite Chia Pet purchased from a late night infomercial — actually have dietary value?
Let’s start with: What are they?
Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food and pack a punch of nutritional worth.
One ounce — about 2 tablespoons — contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron and niacin. They contain omega-3 antioxidants and claim they can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure among other health benefits.
So how do the Promise midwives use Chia seeds?
As we are proponents of evidence-based care, we have witnessed the evidence in the numbers.
During pregnancy, iron is one of the numbers we keep our eye on. Your iron level or hemoglobin in your blood determines how well oxygenated you and your baby are.
Another term you may hear is anemia, or you may be told you are anemic. Your symptoms may be lack of energy or fatigue and sometimes shortness of breath. Adding an iron supplement to your prenatal vitamin is one way to boost the level, but this often comes with side effects such as constipation and upset stomach.
By adding chia seeds and iron-rich foods to the diet, we have seen iron levels jump an entire point in two weeks for many of our patients!
How do you eat Chia seeds?
Chia can be eaten in a variety of ways. Here are some great ideas to get these seeds into your diet: Toss them dry on your salad to add a little crunch. Add them to granola. Put them in pudding, or make chia pudding using 1 cup of sweetened almond or coconut milk and add 1 tablespoon of seeds, let the seeds plump and thicken. Make chia fresca — add 1 tablespoon to 8 ounces of fruit juice and let sit about 15 minutes.
Seeds will take on the flavor of what you put them in as they swell when wet and are a lot like the texture of tapioca. Add to soups or sauces, or bake in breads.
The possibilities are endless!
For more information on chia seeds, check out these articles: www.nutrition.org/asn-blog/2012/03/the-real-scoop-on-chia-seeds/ and draxe.com/seeds-during-pregnancy/.