Friday, 26 April 2019

Why add seeds to a dairy free diet?

When I first found out Matilda was allergic to dairy, one of my biggest concerns was how we were going to meet all her nutritional needs without dairy in her diet. A little research and time spent trying different foods during the weaning process, we soon found our dairy free swaps and managed to ensure her needs are meet. In addition to the usual fortified milk and yoghurt alternatives and usual calcium rich non-dairy foods, one of the easiest things I found to give an added nutritional boost was seeds.

Right from the beginning stages of weaning, I have sprinkled chia and flax seeds over Matilda's porridge and yoghurts and even on bread with dairy free cheese spread. Not only does it add texture, but it adds nutritional value too.

Why add seeds?

Seeds are a fantastic source for many things, from vitamins and minerals to antioxidants and fiber. Studies have also shown that adding seeds to your diet can have added health benefits, particularly in reducing the risk of heart disease and promoting the health of bones and muscles, when included as part of a healthy diet.

There are many different seeds out there, each with their own benefits, tastes and textures.

Which seeds are best?

The seeds you choose will depend on what nutritional benefits you are looking for as well as personal preference. However, there are two seeds I always make sure I have stocked in my cupboard; chia and flax.

Chia seeds are great for that added calcium boost with around 177mg of calcium per 28 gram serving (around two tablespoons). They also contain 10.6g of fiber, 4.4g of protein and 4.9g of Omega 3 fats in one 28g serving.

Flax seeds, also known as linseeds, are a great source of fiber, containing 7.8g per 28g serving. This is in addition to containing 6.5g Omega 3 fats, 5.2g of protein.

If your child has a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is also worth noting that hemp seeds are a great source of protein. It is one of the few plants that are a complete protein source with 8.8g of protein per 28g serving.

Should I include seeds in my child's diet?

At the end of the day, it is entirely your choice. Although there are many great nutritional and health benefits to eating seeds, it is, like most things, not going to meet all your needs alone. What they do provide however, is a nutritional boost to what ever you are serving. If you are concerned about calcium levels as well as other vitamins and minerals in yours or your child's dairy free diet, why not sprinkle them on your breakfast in the morning or add some to your yoghurt.

For more nutritional information, including that of other seeds click here.

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