CHICAGO (NEWSWISE) — The consumer demand for natural, healthy and non-animal source food ingredients are on the rise. A new study from the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), shows that chia seeds when placed in water produce a gel that could potentially be applied in food product development. The results of the study indicate that chia gel can be easily extracted and have great potential in food product development as a thickener and emulsifier, as well as a stabilizer in frozen foods.
Chia is one of the oldest crops cultivated for centuries by the Aztec tribes in Mexico and is high in dietary fiber, protein, and Omega-3 fatty acids. It also has the highest α-linoleic acid (an Omega-3 fatty acid) content of any known vegetable source.
The researchers found that chia gel has good water binding capacity and oil holding capacity, viscosity, emulsion activity and freeze-thaw ability that is comparable to guar gum and gelatine, two common current food ingredients used in baked goods and sauces.
View the abstract in Journal of Food Science here 
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org .
Consumer groups wield power in the food arena as several manufacturers and restaurant chains have removed artificial ingredients at their request. A new study reports that the popular health food chia seeds may be a natural ingredient solution.