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Food Science and Nutrition Alumni

Chia Seeds May Be a Healthy Fat Replacement in Spice Cake

by Jamie Sagdahl, Kiva White-Espin, and Holly Wolfe

Obesity and cardiovascular disease can be preventable with proper nutrition and exercise. Reducing fat in a diet is an important way to decrease these health risks. Chia seeds, normally associated with potted indoor plants, have become the new super food, providing nutritional benefits such as healthy fats like Omega-3, protein, fiber and calcium. Chia has also been reported to help blood sugar regulation, control high blood pressure and suppress appetite.

Research was conducted to determine whether chia seeds were an acceptable fat replacement and healthy alternative to vegetable oil in spice cake. Three spice cupcake recipes were tested: a control using box instructions which included 1/3 cup of oil, one recipe replacing oil with 1/3 cup of dry chia seed and the other recipe replacing oil with 1/2 cup of dry chia seed. The objective tests evaluated height, weight, penetration and shear force. The subjective tests included two triangle tests between the control and the other two chia seed muffins, as well as tests grading moistness, sweetness, and preference.

In the fall of 2010, 52 students from Central Washington University were recruited to participate in sensory evaluation tests. The control was rated highest in all tests except the ½ cup chia seed triangle test; judges could not recognize a difference. Preference tests showed no significant difference was found between 1/3 cup and 1 /2 cup, suggesting that 1/3 cup was a more acceptable substitute when compared to sample 1/2. Study results found the control to be most preferred, however chia seeds may be a healthy substitution and an acceptable fat replacement in baked goods in certain quantities.

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