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During a visit to the local supermarket, you will always find an attractively-packaged box of flax seeds staring at you. Having read many good things about flax seeds, you may want to reach out to it, wanting to give the best to that little life growing inside you. But there is a nagging doubt that holds you back “Are flax seeds safe during pregnancy?” Having full knowledge about the risks, benefits and recommended portions is definitely helpful before including them in your diet during pregnancy.
What Are Flax Seeds?
Flax seeds are borne by the flax plant and are well-known as an effective laxative, with its other benefits coming to the fore in recent times. Known as “Alsi” in India, it is grown in cold regions and contains magnesium, potassium, protein, zinc, vitamins B6 and E. Flaxseed contains an omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid, which can help in the reduction of inflammation and cholesterol levels. Due to its fiber content, flaxseed is also helpful in regulating blood glucose and cholesterol to a great extent.
Is it Safe To Eat Flax Seeds During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a delicate time when you have to be careful about your diet and adopt the safest of food choices possible for your well-being and the baby’s too. There are divided opinions in the medical community about the utility and safety of consuming flax seeds during pregnancy. According to a few knowledgeable sources, the nutrients in flax seeds can reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart-related ailments.
If you are plagued by the question, “can I eat flax seeds while pregnant?” you should know that no studies have been conducted on humans. However, tests done on animals have shown that high doses of this seed can prove to be harmful to the foetus. In such cases, you should always check with your doctor before including flax seeds as a part of your diet.
Flax Seeds’ Nutritional Value
Now, here’s some flax seed nutrition facts. Every 100 grams of flax seeds contains 534 calories. This means that when you consume one tablespoon of whole seeds (approx. 10 grams), you are consuming 55 calories. Flax seeds contain forty-two percent fat, twenty-nine percent carbohydrates, and eighteen percent protein. Almost ninety-five percent of the carbohydrates in Flax seeds is fiber, which is 20% to 40% of soluble fiber and 60% to 80% of insoluble fiber. It is this combination of fiber that makes it a natural laxative and promotes digestive health.
Benefits of Flax Seeds for Pregnant Women
There are a number of health benefits of flax seeds in pregnancy and pregnant women can consult their doctor prior to its inclusion in their diet.
- Contains important nutrients: Flaxseed contains linoleic acid, alpha-linoleic acid or Omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. These are essential during pregnancy since they aid in the brain development of the fetus, especially during the first few months of pregnancy.
- Helps relieve constipation: Pregnant women are often plagued by constipation and flaxseeds being natural laxatives can alleviate the condition. Since bowel movements are regular, it can prevent hemorrhoids.
- Manages blood sugar level: Blood sugar levels tend to rise during pregnancy and flaxseeds help in keeping it at manageable levels. Chances of high birth weight and C-section deliveries can be reduced due to this.
- Reduces occurance of hot flushes: Flaxseeds are also known to reduce the occurrence of hot flushes, which is common during pregnancy.
- Replenishes minerals: Your body needs nutrients since they are being constantly consumed by you and the baby. Minerals like magnesium, selenium, and potassium are replenished when you include flaxseeds in your diet.
- Improves immunity: Consuming flaxseeds provides protection against life-threatening diseases like cancer since it is rich in lignans (Phytonutrients)
- Helps with managing diabetes: Flaxseeds are effective against diabetes due to the soluble fiber contained in it.
- Reduces risks of heart condition: Studies have shown that cardiovascular diseases can be kept at bay as flax seeds are known to contain blood thinning properties
How To Include Flax Seeds in My Diet?
Doctors do not recommend the ingestion of flax seeds in its raw form since it contains minor amounts of cyanide. The best way of including flax seeds in your diet is to roast them as it destroys the cyanide compounds present in it.
- It is best to grind the seeds into powder to absorb it completely. You can add this powder to smoothies or to yogurt if you want to avoid direct consumption.
- You can use the flaxseed powder to garnish your salad or your morning cereal.
Remember to store flax seeds in an airtight container to retain its freshness and keep it crisp.
How Much Flax Seeds Can I Consume When Pregnant
It is important to consume flax seeds in moderation during pregnancy considering the requirement of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is about 1.4g/day. This means you can safely consume not more than one tablespoon of freshly ground flax seed without a worry. Flaxseeds are common ingredients in our daily diet like bread and bakery items so check with your doctor about its inclusion in the diet.
Side Effects Of Eating Flax Seeds
Here are a few known side-effects of eating flax seeds during pregnancy since to-be mothers often ask if it is it harmful to eat flax seeds:
- Since you are extra-careful about adding food items to your diet during pregnancy, do not eat raw or flax seeds, since you could experience rise in your blood pressure levels.
- Pregnant women can experience nausea and diarrhea when flax seeds are consumed in higher quantities.
- If you are allergic to nuts, you should watch out for symptoms like breathing difficulty or tightness around the chest area.
- Swelling of lips is also a common side-effect on eating flax seeds during pregnancy
- Raw flax seeds contain tiny amounts of cyanide which can result in poisoning
Since there are many conflicting theories about the pros and cons of including flax seeds, their quantity etc. during pregnancy, it is always recommended to consult with your doctor about this. So choose the safest option while welcoming a new life into your world.