Chia Seeds During Pregnancy: Safety, Health Benefits And Side Effects

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Chia seeds are tiny edible seeds that contain several vital nutrients, such as soluble fiber, high-quality protein, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants. Since these nutrients promote overall health, consuming chia seeds during pregnancy can benefit you and your baby.

Many expecting mothers wonder how much chia seeds should be consumed daily. Knowing this is essential as excessive intake of these seeds can have certain side effects that may affect you and the baby.

Read on to learn about whether it is safe to consume chia seeds during pregnancy, their nutritional value, possible health benefits, side effects, and suitable ways to add them to your pregnancy diet.

Are Chia Seeds Safe To Eat During Pregnancy?

Yes, chia seeds are safe to consume during pregnancy, but in moderation. They are high in nutrients and can support a healthy pregnancy.

These tiny seeds are often considered a superfood and have been used by the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations. However, there isn’t scientific evidence to establish the benefits of consuming chia seeds while pregnant. So it is better to consult your doctor before including them in your diet (1).

What Quantity Of Chia Seeds Can You Have During Pregnancy?

You can have about 25g of chia seeds every day during pregnancy. This will meet about 18% of your daily protein requirement and one-third of dietary fiber needs, besides much of energy requirements (2).

Nutritional Value Of Chia Seeds

According to the USDA, the nutrition present in 100g of chia seeds is as follows (3):

Vitamin A54IU
Vitamin C1.6mg
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)0.62mg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)0.17mg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)0.5mg

g=grams; mg=milligrams; mcg=micrograms; IU=international unit

What Are The Benefits Of Chia Seeds During Pregnancy?

Chia seeds are highly nutritious and a good source of healthy fats. Here are some reasons why you should include these seeds in your pregnancy diet.

1. Improves energy levels

Exhaustion is normal during pregnancy. Consuming a small quantity of chia seeds can help fight that by boosting energy and endurance (4).

2. Omega-3 fatty acids support fetal brain

Omega-3s are vital for health and development of the baby’s brain. Fish is the major source of omega-3, but its mercury content can be a cause for concern during pregnancy; chia can be a safer alternative (5).

3. Protein assists in muscle growth

You should require about 70g of protein every day during pregnancy for the development of fetal organs and tissues. Chia seeds contain good protein levels, which make them compliment meat, tofu, poultry and nuts (6).

4. Fiber relieves constipation

Chia seeds are loaded with insoluble fiber that aids digestion (7). It can, therefore, treat constipation, a common complaint during pregnancy.

5. Iron improves oxygen supply

Iron is essential for the production of extra red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body system. Chia seeds are one of the easiest ways to get this nutrient in your diet (8).

6. Magnesium eases cramps

Cramps are common, especially in the third trimester. Sufficient levels of magnesium in the body alleviate cramps and tension in the muscles. Chia seeds are rich in magnesium t (9) and may lower the risk of premature labor by curbing early uterine contractions.

7. Rich in calcium

Intake of calcium is essential for the skeletal development of the baby, particularly in the third trimester. Chia seeds contain five times more calcium than milk and are the best alternatives for dairy-free diet (10).

Side Effects Of Chia Seeds In Pregnancy

There are a few risks associated with chia seed consumption when you are pregnant.

1. Leads to gas formation

Over consumption can increase gas production in the body due to high fiber content of chia seeds (11). However, limiting it to the daily recommended amount will not cause any side effects.

2. Causes thinning of blood

The omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial but can also pose risks to the body if taken in larger than the recommended amount. You should consult your doctor before taking it if you have bleeding disorders or if you are taking blood thinning medications (12).

How To Consume Chia Seeds During Pregnancy?

Chia seeds are available both in raw and roasted forms. They are also found in some packaged foods such as cereals, bread, crackers and granola bars. They hold a very mild and nutty flavor and can be added to various recipes.

Here are some ways in which you can include chia seeds in your pregnancy diet.

  • Eat them raw as snacks
  • Add the seeds to everyday meals and snacks
  • Sprinkle over smoothies
  • Add them to yogurt, salad or cereal
  • Add to any pudding or dessert

Some Chia Seed Recipes To Use During Pregnancy

1. Chia seeds with water

Soak some chia seeds in a glass of water and leave it overnight. Consume the water the following day. This makes a perfect summer drink.

2. Chia seeds sandwich

You can add chia seeds to a variety of sandwiches. You can either add them to the butter on a slice of bread and top it with another slice or add them to the condiment while making any vegetable, ham or turkey sandwich.

3. Chia seed smoothie

You will need:

  • Bananas – 3, sliced
  • Dates – 4, pitted and halved
  • Coconut milk yogurt – 2 cups
  • Coconut water – ¼ cup
  • Blueberries – a few
  • Chia seeds – ¼ cup
  • Berries (strawberries, blackberries and more of your choice) – sliced for topping
  • Hemp seeds – topping

How to make:

  1. Combine the first six ingredients in a blender until you get a smooth consistency.
  2. Store it in an airtight container and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add toppings of your choice, and also hemp seeds.
  4. Serve chilled

4. Coconut chia protein pancakes

You will need:

  • Gluten-free all-purpose flour – ¼ cup
  • Coconut flour – 2tbsp
  • Vanilla whey protein powder – 3tbsp
  • Sea salt – a pinch
  • Coconut flakes – 1tbsp
  • Almond milk – 4tbsp
  • Egg – 1
  • Pancake batter – 2tbsp
  • Chia seeds – 1tbsp

How to make:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, and mix well.
  2. Take about ¼ cup of it and pour the batter into a non-stick cooking pan.
  3. Cook for a few minutes and flip over.
  4. Cook for some more time and transfer to a serving plate.
  5. You can top with anything of your choice, such as fruit, chia seeds, maple syrup or honey.

5. Chia Fresca

You will need:

  • Water – 2cups
  • Lemon – 1
  • Chia seeds – 2tbsp
  • Sugar or honey – as required

How to make:

  1. Take water and squeeze fresh lemon in it.
  2. Add chia seeds, and sugar or honey to it.
  3. Refrigerate the container for at least two to three hours.
  4. You will observe the seeds forming a gel-like substance around, which you can readily drink.

6. Chia seed pudding

You will need:

  • Fat-reduced coconut milk – ½ cup
  • Chia seeds – 2tbsp
  • sugar substitute – 2tsp
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2tsp
  • Berries of your choice – 2tbsp

How to make:

  1. Mix all the ingredients except the berries.
  2. Refrigerate the mixture for at least two hours or you can store it overnight.
  3. Top it with berries before eating.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I eat chia seeds during early pregnancy?

Yes, you can eat chia seeds anytime during pregnancy. They supply the required nutrition and calories.

2. Can you eat raw chia seeds?

Yes, you can eat raw chia seeds, but they could be hard to swallow because of their dryness.

Chia seeds during pregnancy can benefit both mother and the baby. These seeds are rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also packed with essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, and calcium. They also provide some amount of proteins and fibers to your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in fetal brain development, and proteins enhance tissue and muscle growth. Overconsumption may cause side effects such as gas formation. If you have bleeding disorders or use blood thinners, you may seek a doctor’s advice before adding chia seeds to your diet.

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Sumaiya Patankar

Dr Sumaiya Petiwala previously practised in various hospitals and currently manages her private practice Nutricare Healthcare clinic in Mumbai. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she is a Unani\Greek medicine specialist. She combines her education and experience across the spectrum t provide holistic service to her clients all over the world. Her services include personal dietary coaching, family physician... more

Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist and toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different organizations. Her interest in scientific writing... more