Biotech, Biomaterials and Biomedical: TechConnect Briefs 2015Biotech, Biomaterials and Biomedical TechConnect Briefs 2015

Food Materials Chapter 8

The Secret of Chia Gel Revealed - Nanoscale 3D Network Retards and Prolongs Food Release

N. Pottackal, P. Das, M. Samateh, G. John
The City College of New York, United States

pp. 335 - 337

Keywords: chia gel, self-assembly, fiber network, 3D nanoscale fibers

Chia Gels have been associated with numerous health benefits over centuries, like curbing diabetes and obesity by retarding digestion rate and quenching craving for more food. However, the exact mode of gelation has always been quite ambiguous; the usual explanation for this process has often been conveyed as the mucilage’s swelling in or coagulation of water. Gel making is our passion and expertise. Our working hypothesis is that chia seed mucilage forms extended fibrous structures in water to ultimately form a 3D network at nanoscale. We are interested to probe the mechanism of gelation in many ways including microscopic techniques. Our preliminary studies entailed gelation tests, which revealed the polar nature of the mucilage. Subsequently, we systematically did microscopic studies using optical microscope, scanning electron microscope (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM). The optical micrographs revealed bundles of fibers at microscale level while the SEM and TEM micrographs revealed a 3D network of nanoscale fibers with diameters such as 30 and 50 nm, confirming our hypothesis. This breakthrough would surely revolutionize the way we envision the gelation process of Chia and other gel forming seeds and materials.