Some of the health benefits of chia seeds for kids include good supply of protein, supply of sustained energy, good source of unsaturated omega 3 fatty acids, a good source of antioxidants and provide high dietary fiber.
Chia seeds are traditional native American food. It originates in Central America in Mexico and Guatemala. The name chia comes from Nahauti language which means ‘oily’. For many hundreds of years or perhaps thousands of years, chia seeds have been highly regarded and consumed by natives. After the Spanish conquest, there was a change in the diet plan of natives. Chia seeds were slowly abandoned in favor of wheat by many. It was not until 2-3 decades ago that chia seeds came into picture once again. This time chia seeds, it seems they are here to stay, as chia seeds have science backing them up.
Chia seeds, just like flax seeds are also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. The ratio of omega 3 fatty acids to omega 6 fatty acids is significantly higher in chia seeds. Which means in chia seeds one can find more omega 3 fatty acids than omega 6 fatty acids. In fact, they have not only be proven to be good for human consumption, but some studies also suggest that when live stock fodder is replaced by chia, can result in healthier animals products.
Can Chia seeds be given to toddlers?
Yes, chia seeds can be given to toddlers. They might pose digestion issue when given to infants. But, they can be given to toddlers once their digestion has improved or if they are ready to eat adult food. Also, the risk of food allergies caused by chia seeds is less. So, they can be given to your toddlers.
Health benefits of chia seeds in babies diet
Here are some of the health benefits of chia seeds for your kids.
Good source of protein: Chia seeds are a good source of protein. You can find about 16 g of protein per 100 g of chia seeds. Protein is no doubt good for your child. Protein helps in building and maintaining not only the outside muscle, but also the organs. You can add chia seeds to many of your dishes.
Sustaining energy: This is perhaps one of the highlights of chia seeds. According to the old native American tradition, chia seeds provide sustained energy for longer periods. The carbohydrates are not absorbed quickly and they are released slowly into the blood stream. When you give chia seeds to your kids, you can make sure that their tummies are full for longer period of time.
High in dietary fiber: Another reason to give chia seeds to your kids is that it contains very high amount of dietary fiber. For 100 g of chia seeds, dietary fiber is about 34 g. This amount of fiber is very helpful in cleansing the digestive tract by eliminating constipation.
Very good source of fatty acids: Chia seeds just like flax seeds, are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. These omega 3 fatty acids are really helpful in brain development and good eyesight for your kids. Native American women used to eat chia seeds all through their pregnancy and post pregnancy. Now it is known that this practice was helpful for their brain and eyesight development. (Scheer, The Magic of Chia, 2001 pp 24).
A good source of antioxidants: Chia seeds are also a good source of antioxidants. In fact, it is believed that the amount of antioxidants found in chia seeds is more than the amount of antioxidants found in some berries. But, due to various allergy issues caused by berries, chia seeds can be a very good option for your kids. (Taga, Miller, Pratt, 1984).
Measures to be taken while giving chia seeds to your kids
There are few measures that you need to take while giving chia seeds to your kids.
Selecting chia seeds: Chia seeds mostly come in two varieties. One is the black seeds and the other is the white seeds. Black seeds are whole seeds and consuming them is a good idea as black seeds are not dehusked.
Soak the seeds overnight: You don’t need to cook chia seeds separately. Instead, you can soak chia seeds overnight. Chia seeds can absorb 9 times water of their own weight and turn into a gel. You can add this gel to all of your food including cereal, cookies, smoothies, various other dishes and practically to any food that you can imagine.
No raw or unsoaked seeds: Raw chia seeds can cause digestion troubles in children. So, be very careful not to give raw, unsoaked and uncooked chia seeds to children.
How much of chia seeds are good enough? You don’t need to take chia seeds in quantities similar to wheat or rice. Instead, few teaspoons of chia do the trick. Not more than 1-2 teaspoons in the beginning for your kids. You can increase the amount later on.
Grinding chia seeds: You can grind chia seeds using a coffee grinder or a mortar. You can also use your regular blender with grinding option for grinding chia seeds. You need to start from the lowest setting and as the seeds start to grind, increase the speed setting slowly.
Risks associated with chia seeds: Though chia seeds are not highly allergic, there are chances that some people might be allergic to chia seeds. On the other hand, chia seeds absorb lot of water and thus, after having chia seeds, it is absolutely necessary to drink lot of water because they chia seeds absorb water and turn into a gel like substance. This might give stomach cramps to a person who has eaten chia seeds but hasn’t had water. Consuming chia seeds in large quantities can interfere in nutrient absorption in the body.
Nutrition in Chia seeds
According to the National Nutrient Database from the US Department of Agriculture, the nutrition in Chia seeds includes
|Nutrition||Value per 100 g||Nutrition||Value per 100 g|
|Water||5.8 g||Energy||486 kcal|
|Protein||16.5 g||Total lipid (fat)||30.7 g|
|Carbohydrates||42.12 g||Fiber||34.4 g|
|Calcium||631 mg||Iron||7.72 mg|
|Magnesium||335 mg||Phosphorus||860 mg|
|Sodium||16 mg||Potassium||407 mg|
|Vitamin C||1.6 mg||Thiamin||0.6 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.17 mg||Niacin||8.8 mg|
|Vitamin A||54 IU||Vitamin E||0.5 mg|