The company is promoting chia flour as a high-fibre, natural wholefood, which it says is rich in antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids – thought to be beneficial for heart health – as well as a host of other nutrients. It says that the flour is suitable for use in all kinds of baked goods, including cakes, bread, biscuits and baked snacks, and that chia’s high antioxidant content means that it also provides long shelf life.
AHD International president John Alkire said: “Chia flour allows baked goods manufacturers to expand offerings targeted toward consumers suffering from gluten intolerance or celiac disease, as well as those looking for an enhanced nutritional profile in their favorite comfort foods and baked desserts.”
The rise of ancient grains
Chia is the edible seed of the Salvia hispanica plant, a member of the mint family native to South America.
It is an ancient grain, and one of a handful that are increasingly finding their way into western diets as they are embraced as ‘novel’ functional foods. As well as chia, these grains also include quinoa, spelt, amaranth and kamut. Datamonitor figures show that the number of products released containing ancient grains has increased nearly fivefold since 2004, from 112, to 515 in 2007.
AHD started supplying chia seeds globally in September, and recently expanded its range to include chia meal, chia oil and chia powder, in order to make it easier for manufacturers to incorporate chia ingredients directly into their products. Although the company is based in Atlanta, it distributes the ingredient range globally in partnership with The Chia Company, an Australia-based specialized grower.
Although chia is gluten-free, it is said that it may not be suitable for sufferers of sesame or mustard-seed allergies.