Flax seeds are a part of an ever-growing list of “superfoods” that are gaining popularity and notoriety these days. Rarely would you not find a box of flax seeds sitting on the shelf of a supermarket. These seeds are rich in fiber, protein and Omega-3 essential fatty acids (“good” fats), and have an endless list of health benefits that include, but are not limited to:
There is a lot of debate on whether or not flax seeds are safe for pregnant women, mainly because there is a lack of substantial research and information. Therefore, some doctors recommend you completely avoid it. Some say that it is a plant with maximum health benefits and minimizes the risk of certain health conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease. We understand that you are concerned about the safety of eating flax seeds in your pregnancy. It is very important to adopt safe food choices during pregnancy. It’s okay to be concerned about the safety of eating certain foods, as you wish nothing but the best for your unborn baby. In this article, we will help you understand the concerns of eating flaxseed during pregnancy.
What Exactly Are Flax seeds?
Flax is a fiber crop, and it is grown in some cooler regions of the world. It is another term for ‘linseed.’ In Hindi, it is called ‘Alsi.’ Flaxseed during pregnancy is an excellent source of dietary fiber and omega 3. Not only omega-3, but it also has lignans, folate, vitamin B6, zinc, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and protein. It should not be ignored in one’s diet, given its health benefits. Is it the same during pregnancy? Let’s see below.
Nutritional Values In It:
Every 100 gms of these seeds has 534 calories. This means that when you eat one tablespoon of seeds (approx. 10 gms), your calorie intake will amount to 55. This contains 42% percent of fat, 29% carbohydrates, and 18% protein. This combination of fiber makes it a natural laxative, and it promotes digestive health.
Safety Of Flax seeds In Pregnancy: Not Enough Evidence
Some animal studies show that high doses (4 tablespoons of flax seeds for every 2000 calories) of flaxseed during pregnancy may be harmful to the fetus. However, there are no studies conducted on human beings confirming the effects of flaxseed during pregnancy.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Flaxseeds?
Recent studies have shown that consuming flax seeds may provide you protection from the below diseases:
Cancer: It is rich in lignans, which are natural cancer-preventing phytonutrients. It provides protection against breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer
Diabetes: Taking flax seeds every day can help regulate your blood sugar levels for an extended period of time. It increases insulin sensitivity because of its high content of soluble fiber
Cardiovascular diseases: It has been shown that flaxseed during pregnancy decreases bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL). It also has blood-thinning properties hence reducing the risk of clogged arteries
Apart from the above benefits, it is used in conditions like ongoing constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis. It also helps with certain conditions related to women, such as menopause symptoms, prevents breast cancer, weak bones.
Benefits Of Flaxseed During Pregnancy
Flaxseed has linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) or omega-3 polyunsaturated fat which is needed during pregnancy
It also acts as a laxative and can help with the pregnancy caused constipation
It is an excellent source of dietary fiber
It reduces the blood sugar levels so it can help with a pregnancy-related increase in the sugar
It can reduce the hot flashes during pregnancy
What Are The Side Effects Of Eating Flaxseed During pregnancy?
Flax seeds are used extensively in baked goods like muffins and slices of bread, thereby difficult in telling them apart from other nuts and ingredients. In case you accidentally eat some flax seeds, watch out for these side effects:
Allergic reactions: Look out for symptoms like tightness in your chest, difficulty in breathing, and swelling of lips. This is a common reaction if you’re allergic to other nuts
Consumption of flax seeds may sometimes give one diarrhea or nausea
Increase in blood pressure levels, if you eat unripe or raw flax seeds
How Can Flax seeds Be Included In My Diet During Pregnancy?
Flax seeds should not be eaten raw as it contains some amounts of cyanide. Though it is not likely to cause any adverse effects on your health, it is advisable not to eat them raw. The correct way of eating flaxseed during pregnancy is to freshly roast them because when heated, its cyanide compounds are destroyed. Grind into a powder because when you eat them whole, they might not be absorbed fully. And always store the flax seeds into an airtight container.
You can mix the freshly ground powder to yogurt or to a smoothie
Sprinkle on your salad
Mix the powder into the whole wheat dough before making chapatis
Mix them into the batter of bread, dosa, idly, muffins
Mix it into your morning cereal or oatmeal
Or you can find your own interesting ways of consuming flax seeds to get nutrition.
How Much Can I Have Flaxseed During Pregnancy?
It is possibly safe to take flaxseed during pregnancy in moderation. Flaxseed is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an essential nutrient in pregnancy. Since there is not much evidence available about the safety of flaxseed, it is sensible to limit your daily intake. The ALA requirement of pregnant women is 1.4g/per day. Approximately one tablespoon of ground flaxseed can provide you with that dose. Moderation is the key here.
Are Flax seeds Safe For Breastfeeding Mothers?
The effects of ingesting flax seeds or flaxseed oil during breastfeeding are not currently known. But some women believe they can help with milk production. As the full effects are not known, it is best advised that you consult with your doctor first.