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Enrichment of animal products with omega-3 fatty acids using chia seed-based ingredients

Ricardo Ayerza (h)and Wayne Coates
Office of Arid Lands Studies
The University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona 85750


There is considerable evidence suggesting that regular consumption of T-3 fatty acids prevents cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Most studies, however, have been carried out with fish products. However, in many countries as USA and Argentina annual per capita consumption of marine products is low. In addition, for many people, a strong limitation for the use of fish as a food is that fish has been recognized as a potent allergen, both in food allergies and occupational allergies.

An alternative is to enrich products of animal origin most consumed and the goal of this project was to obtain an alternative to fish products using chia seed-based feed ingredient. Methodology included dietary different levels of chia seed (whole and grown), and chia oil. The research and development result showed the feasibility of enriching animal products like eggs, poultry meat, cow’s milk and pork meat with omega-3 fatty acids, and  suggested that none of the current levels of omega-3 fatty acids that can be produced by the incorporation of chia in animal diets can be reached using flax, fish oil or algae-based diets without strongly affecting animal performance and/or one or more of the intrinsic characteristics of the final product. In all cases, the limiting factor for utilization of high percentages of available omega-3 sources, with the exception of chia, is flavor, smell and/or atypical textures transmitted by these sources to the products. Also, in the case of flax, animal production would be negatively affected.

Industrial Crops and Rural Development, edited by M.J. Pascual-Villalobos, F.S. Nakayama, C.A. Bailey, E. Correal, and W.W. Schloman Jr., The Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops, and Instituto Murciano de Investigacion y Desarrollo Agrario y Alimentario, Murcia, Spain, pp.797-807  (2005).

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