Chia seeds as a novel food

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Authors: Ágnes Kemenczei, Anita Maczó, Anna Kiss

 

 1.     Summary


One of today’s popular products is the seed of Salvia hispanica, more commonly known as chia seeds. Its popularity stems from its high nutrient content, and also from the be­neficial health effects associated with its consumption. Salvia hispanica was one of the staple crops of the Aztec and Mayan civilizations and, in addition to being consumed as a food, it was also used in medicine because of its special nutrient content. These days chia seed consumption is experiencing a renaissance again, for example, in the USA, Canada and Australia, it has been used for more than eight years as a food ingredient, because of its potentially beneficial health effects. The protein, essential fatty acid and fiber contents of chia seed are outstanding, and it is an excellent natural source of ant­ioxidants. Chia seeds are classified as a “novel food” in the European Union, so there are strict conditions for its marketing and use for business purposes. The use of chia seeds as a food ingredient was approved by the Directorate-General For Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) in 2009, the conditions of which were modified in 2013, 2014 and 2015. However, consumption of more than 15 grams a day can cause gastrointest­inal problems, therefore, in the European Union, consumers have to be warned about this. In addition, its potential allergizing effect also has to be taken into consideration when consuming it. Today, the positive effects of chia seed consumption have not yet been proved, and further research is needed regarding its future role played in the food industry.

2. Introduction

One of today’s popular products is the seed of Salvia hispanica, more commonly known as chia seeds. Its popularity stems from its high nutrient content, and also from the beneficial health effects associated with its consumption. At websites promoting a healthy diet, one can almost read about its healing powers. It became an essential part of weight-loss diets. But is its popularity justified? In this article we seek to find the answer to the question whether its consumption has beneficial health effects, or whether it has any potential adverse effects.

 

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