Chia seeds come from Salvia columbariae, a desert plant and member of the mint family. Although you may have seen chia sprouts on Chia pet sculptures, the seed is the nutritional part of the plant. Chia seeds are rich in protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Although chia seeds are considered safe for most people to consume, talk to your health-care provider before altering your diet while breastfeeding.
How to Use Chia Seeds
The daily recommended dose of chia seeds is 2 tablespoons. The seeds can be mixed into smoothies or sprinkled on top of most foods, including cereal, yogurt, oatmeal and soup. You can also create a gel with chia seeds that can be eaten alone or mixed into baked goods and casseroles. Mix 2 tablespoons of chia seeds with 1 cup of water. Allow the mixture to stand for 30 minutes or until a gel has formed.
Hormonal changes that occur during and after pregnancy can cause digestive problems and constipation. Consuming high-fiber foods can help alleviate digestive problems and soften stools. The fiber in chia seeds also slows the digestion process and helps you feel full for longer periods. Chia seeds provide 8 grams of dietary fiber per a 2 tablespoon serving. According to the National Institutes of Health, add fiber to your diet slowly, over a period of time. Adding it to your daily intake too quickly may lead to problems with cramping, bloating and gas.
Women need additional protein while breastfeeding to assist in your baby's growth and brain development. The Ohio State University Extension recommends approximately 70 grams of protein per day for nursing moms. Consuming chia seeds on a regular basis can help you reach the recommended daily amount of protein.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish, fortified foods, nuts and olive oil. Chia seeds provide a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which supports your baby's eye and brain development during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Nursing mothers should consume at least 200 mg of DHA, or omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid each day. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contains 3,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Including chia seeds as part of a balanced diet can help you meet your and your baby's nutritional needs while breastfeeding. Allergic reactions ranging from mild to anaphylactic may occur when consuming chia seeds. Consult your physician before consuming chia seeds, especially if you are allergic to other types of nuts or seeds.