Chia gel may replace eggs and oils in cakes

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Omega-3 fatty acid Nutrition

A gel made from chia may replace as much as 25 per cent of the oil or eggs in cakes without affecting taste, says a new study that points to more nutritious products.

In addition to being acceptable to the taste buds of consumers, the chia gel-containing cakes had almost 60 milligrams more omega-3 fatty acids per 100 grams, according to findings published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association​.

Chia seed (Salvia hispanica​) comes from a plant in the mint family. The seeds are rich in protein, fiber and amino acids - and also omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The seeds have been proposed for use in bread, while in Chile they have also been used in pasta, and in Australia and New Zealand in a yogurt product made by Fonterra.

Chia seeds have already been used in the US in nutritional supplements, bars, breakfast cereal and cookies.

The new study looked at the use of a chia gel, obtained by soaking chia seeds in water, as fat replacers in cakes.

They’ll never notice the difference

“For a fat replacer to be successful it should improve or at least preserve the functional characteristics and sensory feelings of the food in which it will be used,”​ explained the researchers. “In this case, the fat replacer should maintain the functional characteristics of the product (ie, cake weight, cake volume, and symmetry) and preserve the taste, texture, and color of the cake as compared to the traditional formula (control).”

Led by Rafael Borneo from the Center of Excellence in Products and Processes Córdoba at the Argentine Ministry of Science and Technology, the researchers prepared cakes with oil or eggs replaced at levels of 0, 25, 50, and 75 per cent.

The data showed that the best results were obtained at a chia gel substitution level of 25 per cent, based on a comparison with the color, taste, texture, and overall acceptability of control cakes.

Furthermore, the overall weight of the cakes were unaffected by addition of chia gel, said the researchers, but increasing chia gel levels detrimentally the cake volume.

“This study demonstrates that chia gel can replace as much as 25 per cent of oil or eggs in cakes while yielding a more nutritious product with acceptable sensory characteristics,”​ wrote Borneo and his co-workers.

What next?

Additional research is needed, said the researchers, with less-aggressive fat reduction possibly yielding “products with acceptable functional and sensory characteristics”​.

Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association
June 2010, Volume 110, Issue 6, Pages 946-949
“Chia (​Salvia hispanica L) Gel Can Be Used as Egg or Oil Replacer in Cake Formulations”
Authors: R. Borneo, A. Aguirre, A.E. Leon

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