Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE)

Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE)

Chia and Fats

Water and methanol extracts of chia seed meal left following pressing to remove the oil have demonstrated strong antioxidant activity (Taga, Miller, and Pratt, 1984). These antioxidants make chia a very stable source of omega-3 fatty acids and explain why the Aztecs were able to store chia seed and flour for extended periods of time without them becoming rancid.

The most important antioxidants in chia are chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid as well as myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol flavonols. These compounds are both primary and synergistic antioxidants and help prevent the oxidation of lipids, proteins, and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Its antioxidant properties are much more effective than non-orthohydroxy flavonol compounds (Makris and Rossiter, 2001).

Caffeic acid and cholorgenic acid, both found in chia, exhibit strong free radical and Superoxide scavenging activity and inhibit lipid peroxidation. These antioxidant properties are significantly stronger than those of ferulic acid and common antioxidants such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) (Kweon, Hwang, and Sung, 2001).
Epidemiological studies indicate that consumption of high levels of flavonol-rich foods and beverages may protect against coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and stomach cancer. In particular, flavonoids such as quercetin have been reported to inhibit platelet adhesion to collagen and collagen-induced platelet aggregates. This may explain the relationship between these antioxidants and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Lipid oxidation in foods is a problem, particularly with polyunsaturated omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. If oxidation is not controlled, off-flavors in food (typically a fishy flavor) are produced. In addition, oxidation also promotes the degenerative diseases of aging (cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataract, immune system decline, and brain dysfunction). In foods containing antioxidants, oxidation and loss of palatability caused by generation of off-flavors are slowed. Both synthetic and natural antioxidants can be added to foods; however, recent trends have been away from synthetic products because of the suspicion that these compounds may promote carcinogenicity.

Because oxidation in chia is minimal to nonexistent, chia offers significant potential within the food industry, compared with EPA and DHA sources such as flax, since these exhibit rapid decomposition as a result of the absence of antioxidants.

Adapted from Chia by Ricardo Ayerza Jr. and Wayne Coates, © 2005

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