At the SupplySide West tradeshow last fall, ingredients supplier Benexia (Santiago, Chile) rolled out some advanced chia-seed ingredients, including an ultra-fine, ultra-dispersible chia powder for beverages. Fast-forward to this March’s Natural Products Expo West trade show, and the company has yet another innovation: a high-quality chia oil that Benexia says retains all of chia’s healthful nutrients due to a special production process.
Sandra Gillot, Benexia’s CEO, told Nutritional Outlook that Benexia’s filtering process ensures that none of the key constituents are removed from the chia oil, so that the oil remaining is rich in bioactive components such as antioxidants, polyphenols, tocopherols, and sterols. “I think we are the first company to really develop a process for the chia oil that really keeps all the benefits of it,” Gillot said. Typically, she said, “you can remove these components if you filter [an oil] too much and if you remove all the waxes and everything from the chia oil. Then you get a beautiful oil, but it’s empty of these components.”
Gillot said the company is now trying to launch this chia oil at the national level “as the best plant-based source of omega-3”—namely, alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. “ALA has its own function in our body, and your body needs it as much as it needs EPA and DHA,” Gillot said. “Even people from [the] EPA and DHA [industry] know that we need ALA.”
Gillot described Benexia’s new ALA-rich oil as having a nutty taste, sustainable, and free of contaminants and allergens. In addition, the oil is very stable thanks to Benexia’s Xia Pure OX Blocker technology, which Gillot said retains the oil’s low peroxide index and stability and ensures a longer shelf life, good flavor, and aroma.
Gillot said that Benexia is now working with Taiyo Ingredients (Minneapolis), which is now exclusively distributing Benexia’s new chia oil and other ingredients. The companies said that, thanks to Xia Pure OX Blocker, “This proprietary technology uses a process and formulation that maintains the natural tocopherols within the oil, bringing an excellent oxidative stability to the product, up to two years at ambient temperature, while preserving its high ORAC level of antioxidants (962 umol/TE/100g) present in the specially selected chia seeds.”
And as far as food applications, Gillot said the oil “could be massively used” in products such as spreads, dressings, and oils. The chia oil can even be blended with other types of oils to achieve a better omega-3:omega-6 ratio. “If you take olive oil plus chia oil, or even a blend with sunflower oil and chia oil, with a little bit of chia oil you can better balance your omega-3:omega-6 ratio,” Gillot explained.