I have been consuming chia for the last year and have followed and enjoyed your blog for some while. I am writing to ask if you have any thoughts on the potential damaging effects of heat (baking, cooking, etc.) on chia's nutritional value. I am thinking about chia's omega-3 content, in particular. <snip> I am beginning to question whether one can safely bake or cook any chia without damaging if not completely destroying the nutritious content of this wondrous seed.
Thanks for your time. Regards, Philip
On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 9:45 AM, Margaret wrote:
Thanks for the question. I have also been concerned about this issue so have just spent an hour or so doing research.
I've found virtually no evidence to support the notion that short chain omega-3 fatty acids are destroyed during normal cooking.
I am not a nutritionist, but I was able to find several popular articles relevant to the topic:
Nutrition Data is quite a well researched website. This is a link to a discussion about heat and ALAs in flax seed. Flax and chia are similar in so many respects that there should be no difference in response to heat.
This website by the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils includes a thorough 54 page pdf on cooking with fats and oils. While it discusses oxidation of PUFAs at very high temperatures, it does not address any concern about degradation of ALAs during normal cooking. Likewise, this issue is not addressed in several popular nutrition books including Marion Nestle's What to Eat, The Ultimate Omega-3 Diet by Evelyn Tribole, The Omega Diet by A. Simopouslos, and The Queen of Fats by Susan Allport.
I am anxious to answer this question once and for all, and hope that some knowledgeable nutritionist will read and respond to this post.
EDIT (August 15, 2009) One of my favorite nutrition bloggers, Andy Bellatti, addresses this question here. He agrees with me that whole or ground chia seeds can sustain high temperatures without losing omega-3 value.
He says: "Don’t be scared to use hemp or chia seeds in muffin recipes. Although heating instructions may specify the oven temperature to be set at 350 or 400 degree Fahrenheit, the internal temperature of a muffin right out of the oven is usually no higher than 250 ot 275 degrees Fahrenheit."