Menopause is a phase in a woman’s life when her monthly period or menstruation permanently stops and they are no more capable of bearing a child.
This occurs in the age between 40 and 60.
During the postmenopausal phase, women are a high risk of developing a number of health conditions like osteoporosis (bones become very weak) and heart disease.
There is a hormonal imbalance in women post menopause.
Urinary tract infections and urine leakage are other disorders which are common.
Hence, the postmenopausal health of a woman is of great concern. It becomes very important to treat the ailments during this period to prevent complications.
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Chia Seeds Benefits in Postmenopausal Phase
Chia seeds are obtained from a plant, Salvia hispanica. The chia seeds contain 25‒40% oil, 15‒25% protein, 18‒30% dietary fiber.
It is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids particularly linolenic acid. It also contains a high amount of antioxidants especially tocopherols.
The essential fatty acids and phenolic compounds present in chia seeds have several health benefits. The benefits of chia seeds in the postmenopausal phase are:
1. It increases the level of omega‒3s
Omega‒3s are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids which are beneficial for health. A study was carried out on ten postmenopausal women who ingested 25g/d of chia seeds for 7 weeks.
A significant increase in the level of linolenic acid and eicosapantaenoic acid was observed in the serum of postmenopausal women.
A bread formulation was made using chia seeds. It was found that the bread has high nutritional value and could be used as a functional food for women.
Omega‒3s enhance bone density in postmenopausal women. A significant number of women in the postmenopausal phase face depression and hot flashes.
Supplements of eicosapentaenoic acid improve depression symptoms and decrease the frequency of hot flushes/flashes(suddenly feeling intensely warm) in the postmenopausal phase.
A study was carried out on postmenopausal women wherein omega‒3 fatty acids (2g/d) were given for 8 weeks.
This study revealed that omega‒3s reduces the symptoms of major depressive disorder and hot flashes.
What does this mean? Consumption of chia seeds raises the level of essential nutrients, omega‒3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in postmenopausal women which maintains a healthy body and benefits brain health.
2. It helps to maintain bone health
Chia seeds are rich in calcium. An ounce of chia seeds has five times more calcium found in milk.
It not only prevents osteoporosis but also boosts the metabolism of the body.
Chia seeds are helpful for those who are lactose intolerant (lactose present in milk is not digested) as it provides dietary calcium.
Chia seeds are also rich in other minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium and protein, thereby strengthening bones.
Several studies suggest that high protein intake is essential for the development and maintenance of the bone structure. The bone mineral density also increases by consumption of a diet rich in proteins.
Chia seeds are rich in proteins and hence, increases bone strength on regular consumption.
Chia seeds also contain boron which is given as a supplement to the patients of osteoarthritis. It is a key element for maintaining strong bones and increasing muscle strength.
What does this mean? It suggests that chia seeds can be beneficial in maintaining bone health which is very essential in postmenopausal phase.
3. It promotes heart health
Chia seeds are a rich source of linolenic acid which induces lipid redistribution (lipids are depleted from the heart) giving cardioprotection .
A dietary pattern that includes chia seeds, oat, and soy protein was found to reduce serum triglycerides in human subjects. This lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A study was carried out on an animal model to investigate the effect of chia seeds on dyslipidaemia (increased level of lipids and triglycerides) and insulin resistance (the hormone insulin doesn’t function properly).
Beneficial effects of chia seeds were shown as it reduced the level of lipids and improved glucose homeostasis (balance of hormones to maintain blood glucose).
What does this mean? Consumption of chia seeds helps to maintain a healthy heart. It reduces triglyceride levels and lipid accumulation in blood vessels. It also maintains the blood glucose level. Chia seeds are one of the richest source of essential omega‒3s which inhibit inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease.
4. It maintains good skin
Dehydrated skin is prevalent in postmenopausal women.
It has been found that polyunsaturated fatty acids present in chia seeds prevent transepidermal water loss (water loss from skin).
Moreover, chia seed extract inhibits product of melanin (a pigment responsible for dark colored skin). This is due to the downregulation of melanogenic enzymes.
Chia seeds are rich in tocopherols which is basically‘Vitamin E’ that is an antioxidant.
It controls the formation of wrinkles and maintains smooth skin. The antioxidant activity of chia seeds stops the formation of free radicals.
This prevents inflammation and destruction of skin cells. It also enhances the activity of skin repair systems.
What does this mean? Postmenopausal women can maintain healthy skin and fasten skin repair by intake of chia seeds on regular basis.
5. Chia seeds benefit in diabetes
In the postmenopausal phase, women are at risk of diabetes.
A study showed that consumption of chia seeds by overweight patients is beneficial in promoting weight loss and maintains blood glucose levels .
In another study, a comparison of chia seeds and flax seeds was done in reducing the risk of diabetes.
The results on fifteen healthy participants revealed that chia seeds drastically reduced blood glucose by converting glucose into a slow releasing carbohydrate .
A significant increase in the level of linolenic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid was observed in subjects on the intake of 4g/d chia seeds for 12 weeks.
It maintains good levels of glucose and lipids thereby maintaining well-controlled diabetes.
What does this mean? Intake of chia seeds helps in maintaining normal levels of blood glucose thereby controlling diabetes.
6. It improves digestion
In the postmenopausal phase, women undergo hormonal imbalances. Due to this, they suffer digestion problems such as bloating and constipation .
Chia seeds are rich in fiber. According to the American Dietetic Association, one serving of chia seeds can provide the requisite amount of fiber for a day.
The fiber in chia seeds promotes bowel regularity.
It also releases a gelatin-like substance in the stomach that acts as a prebiotic (non‒digestible food that promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract).
What does this mean?
Healing the digestive problems in postmenopausal women is very important for a healthy lifestyle.
The high fiber content of chia seeds helps a great deal in treating the bowel disorders on daily intake.
A maximum of 2 tablespoons of chia seeds has reasonable nutrition as well as health benefits.
There is no evidence for side‒effects of consuming chia seeds. The Food and Drug Administration has regarded chia seeds as food.
Avoid consuming dry chia seeds as they may swell in the food pipe and cause choking.
Chia seeds are rich in dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.
It also contains antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds which have several health benefits.
The high calcium content of chia seeds is beneficial especially for postmenopausal women as it maintains healthy bones.
It also prevents cardiovascular disease and risk of diabetes in postmenopausal women.
It fastens the repair mechanisms of the skin. It is regarded as a superfood because of its nutritional and health benefits.
Chia seeds are regarded as a super-rich fiber diet which helps to relieve symptoms of digestive disorders.
Hence, chia seeds can be called a nutraceutical i.e. a functional food with not only nutritional benefits but also several health benefits.