Since it’s the middle of winter here in Australia, we are enjoying hot bowls of organic oatmeal at my house and we always toss in a teaspoon or more of chia seeds. Since I haven’t shared anything with you about the great benefits of chia seeds for breast cancer patients and survivors, today I am going to remedy that oversight. Here are some of the best benefits of chia seeds for breast cancer.
The ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures recognized the importance of these tiny little seeds – they were important during times of famine, for long journeys when food was scarce, and before intense exercise. “Chia” means strength in the Mayan language. We are discovering that chia seeds are quite wonderful for more than just times of famine!
1. Calcium Content – Since most of us are trying to limit our dairy intake due to the fact that most dairy products – at least in some parts of the world – are filled with the growth hormones and antibiotics fed to our cattle (unless organic), calcium intake can be a problem. Yes, we can get it from our greens, but chia seeds are an amazing source of calcium, higher than most dairy products, serve for serve. 100g of chia seeds (about five tablespoons) contains a whopping 631 mg of calcium.
2. Protein – Chia seeds are a wonderful source of good quality protein, important for those who are trying to cut down or eliminate meat from their diets. We also have a higher demand for protein after surgery to help repair surgical incisions. By weight, chia seeds are about 14% protein and full of essential amino acids.
3. Help Weight Loss – Chia seeds help with weight loss in several ways. One, when combined with liquid they absorb about nine times their weight – they swell up and become gelatinous and this slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Two, after eating chia seeds your blood sugar levels tend to stabilize. Three, they help you to feel full so that you are not looking for the next snack. And we all know keeping our weight down after breast cancer is important because being overweight is a risk factor.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Chia seeds are a decent source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). White chia seeds tend to have more omega-3 fatty acids than the black seeds do.
5. Plant Lignans – Chia seeds are a great source of plant lignans which studies show are excellent for breast health and their anti-cancer effects. Plant lignans are broken down in the gut to create enterolignan, which is known (among other things) to inhibit the aromatase enzyme, 1 making it a NATURAL AROMATASE INHIBITOR (did you catch that?). I could link to a bunch of research here, but I see Dr Joel Fuhrman has already done that in his don’t-miss-it article about chia seeds and flaxseeds on his website, see 2 below in References.
6. Antioxidants – Chia seeds are a great source of antioxidants 3, which protect the omega-3 fats in the seeds and aid in reducing inflammation in the body, and since cancer is nothing if not an inflammatory process, this is important! Black chia seeds tend to contain a bit more protein and antioxidants than the white ones do. Getting antioxidants from our foods is a much better and more natural source than taking them as supplements.
7. Caffeic Acid – Chia seeds contain caffeic acid (one of the antioxidants mentioned above) which studies show inhibits estrogen-receptor positive (ER+) AND estrogen-receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer. 4
7. Minerals – Besides calcium, chia seeds have oodles of other useful minerals like potassium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium.
8. Binds To Toxins In Digestive Tract – The fiber content of chia seeds binds to toxins in the digestive tract and helps to usher the toxins out of the body.
Tip: Some people can get a stomach ache after eating chia seeds – to avoid that let the chia seeds sit in filtered water or freshly prepared juices for several minutes up to half an hour. The reason for this is their ability to absorb up to nine times their weight in liquids – soaking them first means they are absorbing the liquid you put them in rather than swelling in your stomach.
1. Inhibition of human aromatase by mammalian lignans and isoflavonoid phytoestrogens – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8382517
2. Fighting Breast Cancer With Flax and Chia Seeds – https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/cancer_flax.aspx
3. Phytochemical profile and nutraceutical potential of chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) by ultra high performance liquid chromatography – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24811150
4. Caffeine and Caffeic Acid Inhibit Growth and Modify Estrogen Receptor and Insulin-like Growth Factor I Receptor Levels in Human Breast Cancer — http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/21/8/1877
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