Chia Seeds After Menopause

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If you don’t know what chia seeds are, today is your lucky day. You may remember chia seeds as those seeds you could spread over a clay “pet” to eventually sprout into a Chia Pet. Chia seeds, from the Salvia hispanica plant, are native to Mexico and Guatemala. Chia was cultivated by the pre-Columbian Aztecs, and is said to have been an important dietary staple, for good reason.

Chia seeds are rich in nutrients—one tablespoon of chia seeds provides 2,375 milligrams of the omega-3 ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), 2.5 grams of protein, and 5 grams of dietary fiber. Plus, if you eat the black seeds (as opposed to the white ones, which are less common), you get the benefit of added antioxidants found mostly in the rich-colored seed components.

The omega-3 ALA is considered the “parent” omega-3 because it is converted in the body into EPA, and then, to a lesser extent, into DHA. The conversion rate is generally quite small, however, though it can vary depending on a number of factors. A recent study published in the journal Plant Foods for Nutrition found that chia seed consumption was able to raise blood levels of EPA in postmenopausal women by 30 percent, which is higher than estimates between eight and 20 percent previously found in healthy adults.

Previously, it was known that reproductive women converted ALA into EPA 2.5 times greater than healthy men. This new study suggests that postmenopausal women may have an increased ability to convert ALA into EPA. Important to note, however, the study only involved 10 women, so further studies will be needed to confirm these results.

In the meantime, chia is such a great source of nutrients; it’s an easy way to obtain fiber, protein, and omega-3s each day. This week, add some chia to your life. For a yummy chia treat, add two tablespoons of chia to ½ cup of juice. Let it sit for about 15 minutes (or longer, if you’d like) and enjoy as a snack. The seeds gelatinize when they soak, creating an interesting texture that resembles pudding or jello. Delish!

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