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in,” “good source of,” and “more” because ALA is an essential
fatty acid with a recommended intake.
From a formulator’s perspective, chia has some attrac-
tive properties compared with flax seed, another plant-based
source of ALA. Because of its thinner seed coat, whole chia is
easily digested by the human body, whereas flax seed must
be ground to enable digestion and absorption of nutrients.
However, flax seed lacks the antioxidants of chia, making it
prone to lipid oxidation and reduced shelf life. In contrast, chia
is very stable. According to Ralston, sensory tests have indi-
cated that whole chia seeds are stable for 5 years from the
date of harvest. “When you mill or sprout chia, or press it to
produce an oil, it’s stable for about 18 months before you start
to see a degradation in quality,” he says.
Several methods exist to extract oil from chia seed, includ-
ing compression, solvent, and supercritical fluid extraction. The
latter method typically yields the highest purity and ALA content
(Mohd Ali, N., et al., http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/171956,
2012). Chia oil is not used in foods as much as whole or milled
chia, primarily because oil production is an inefficient process,
with over 80% waste. In addition, chia oil does not offer the fiber
or protein content of whole or milled chia.
Andrew Stewart, a formulator and managing partner at
Toronto-based Amazing Grains, LLC, incorporates Salba chia
into all of his products. “Amazing Grains is a blend of sprouted
whole grains with super seeds and fruits and vegetables,” he
says. “It was the Salba chia that won us the ‘Startup Ingredient
of the Year’ award presented by Nutraingredients.com in
Geneva in May.” Like Vuksan, Stewart says he will only work
with Salba chia because of its consistency.
“I find that the addition of Salba chia into a variety of prod-
ucts has the ability to lower the glycemic index,” Stewart says. He
has also developed a fat-replacement system by emulsifying any
edible oil, water, and Salba chia. “I’ve been able to bring down the
fat content in a wide variety of products,” says Stewart.
“Some people want to include chia in their products,
but they don’t really add enough to make a difference,” says
Stewart. “I include Salba chia in my formulations at anywhere
from 5 to 20 percent. Twenty percent goes into cereals.” When
water or milk is stirred into the cereal, the Salba gels up, creat-
ing a thick porridge-like texture, he says.
The unique texture of hydrated chia can allow the partial
replacement of eggs in baked goods. “To replace eggs with our
Salba seed, we say to use a 4: 1 ratio of either the milled prod-
uct or the whole seed to water,” says Ralston. “A lot of vegans
and people with other dietary restrictions are coming up with
some really creative recipes using Salba.”
Although the mucilaginous texture of hydrated chia seeds
works well for some applications, many consumers find the
mixture, which resembles tapioca pudding, unappetizing. As
a result, Morini developed a milling process that mitigates the
slimy texture of chia seeds. The patented process combines
mixing, milling, heating, and drying to produce extremely fine
chia particles (80–90 microns). When mixed with water, the
chai particles revert to a submicron size.
According to Morini, the microfine Anutra chia is much eas-
ier to work with than standard whole or milled chia. Because of