Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) – A Potential Crop for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa
- Pauline Ikumi
- Monica Mburu
- Daniel Njoroge
There has been an increasing demand for functional foods with numerous health benefits due to intensified consumer awareness leading to a major shift in the consumption patterns of food. This has largely been attributed to increased lifestyle diseases across different populations. The use of food with nutraceutical and functional properties for management of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems is now gaining momentum among the public. Consequently, the consumption of chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) has increased in recent years particularly due to its high content of omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber. Chia seeds also contain high quality proteins which offer all the essential amino acids and several vital minerals. In addition, chia seeds are a potential source of antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds such as chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol with the major phenolic acid being rosmarinic. Owing to the rich nutritional profile, chia seeds provide numerous health benefits such as; cardiac protective and hepatic protective effects, anti-aging and anti-carcinogenic properties. The high amounts of dietary fibers present in the seeds also confer benefits by preserving good glycemic control thus helps in controlling diabetes mellitus. In addition to the numerous health benefits accrued to consumption of chia seeds, they have great potential in application in the food industry for; development of various baked products, production of biodegradable edible films, use as emulsifiers and stabilizers among other uses. This review provides an in-depth insight into the potential of chia crop in promoting nutrition and food security by providing comprehensive information pertaining to; its origin, cultivation and distribution, physical properties, nutritional characteristics, health benefits, functional properties and its potential use in the food industry. It evident that chia seeds contain superior nutritional components as compared to other seeds and also confers many health benefits such as antioxidative, anti-hypertensive and hypoglycemic properties among others. It possesses physical and functional properties that make it an excellent crop for use in food applications for the development of functional foods. Moreover, its application not only limited to food but can also be used for feed. Chia therefore demonstrates great potential as a crop that can be utilized for improved food and nutrition security.
- Bella DongEditorial Assistant