Little seeds, big deeds: Chia's bright bread future

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

The chia seed has been backed for its formulation and healthy properties
The chia seed has been backed for its formulation and healthy properties

Related tags: Chia seeds, Salvia hispanica, Chia

Adding chia seeds to bread recipes significantly increases final product levels of proteins, lipids, ash and dietary fiber, and consumers like it too, according to research.

Scientists at the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology in Valencia have been evaluating the potential of chia seeds as a bread making ingredient. They found that it was possible to create products with increased nutritional quality by integrating 5% chia and ground chia seeds (whole chia, semi-defatted chia and low-fat chia flour).

The dose was in response to the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) judgement back in 2009 that chia seeds and whole ground chia seeds are safe to be used in the European community as novel food ingredients at this level within bread products.

What’s the difference?

Sensory analysis in the study showed that the inclusion of chia, “increased overall acceptability by consumers.”

The researchers found that in comparison with the regular control samples, the products developed with chia did not differ in terms of quality. However differences were found in loaf specific volume and crumb color.

In addition,“the chia ingredients produced practically no alteration in the mixing and over mixing properties, with the exception of water absorption, mainly because of the presence of mucilage.”

“The thermal properties of the starch did not alter substantially with the inclusion of chia. However, the incorporation of chia inhibited the kinetics of amylopectin retro gradation during storage.” ​This would be directly related to the delay in bread staling, explained the researchers.

They concluded that, “the inclusion of chia seeds or flours had a positive effect on the technological and sensory value of the bread products, and therefore its inclusion is recommended, even at levels greater than 5%.”

Planting a seed

Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L​) have come a long way since their 70s fame in the US whereby the mint relative was used to form the hair of novelty Chia Pets. The chia seed has been a staple in its native Mexico and Guatemala and was favoured by the Aztecs, but it is only in recent years that it has followed in the footsteps of ingredients like quinoa and goji and gained 'consumer buzz' status.

Researchers on this study said chia contains a high proportion of natural antioxidant compounds (tocopherol, beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and flavonoids such as quercetin, myricetin and kaempferol), which prevents enhances shelf-life and adds nutritional value to products.

“Chia seeds are also a source of riboflavin, niacin, thiamine and minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, magnesium and copper,”​ found the study.  

Chia's high fibre content was also highlighted. "...its use has important benefits such as the regulation of intestinal transit, reduction in the glycemic index and its corresponding insulin response, among others.”

Source: European Food Research & Technology

Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s00217-013-2067

“Evaluation of performance of dough and bread incorporating chia (Salvia hispanica L.)”

Authors: E. Iglesias-Puig and M. Haros 

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