BACKGROUND: Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) is a functional food from Central America. Interest in it is growing rapidly due to the many health benefits from the seed. However, when chia is grown at high latitudes, seed yield may be low whereas a high stem biomass and immature inflorescences are produced. Little is known about the chemical composition and the properties of stems and flowers. In this work, the metabolite profile, the antioxidant activity, and the total polyphenol content of stems and inflorescences were evaluated in a factorial experiment with different chia populations (commercial black chia and long-day flowering mutants G3, G8, and G17) and irrigation (100% and 50% of evapotranspiration).
RESULTS: The results show the influence of irrigation and seed source on the antioxidant activity and total polyphenol content of chia flower and stem. Inflorescences exhibit higher antioxidant activity, suggesting their potential use as natural antioxidant. The mutants G3 and G8, at 50% irrigation, contained the highest amounts of compounds with nutraceutical value, especially within the flower. The mutant G17 showed lower antioxidant activity and polyphenol content compared to other seed sources but exhibited high omega 3 content in flowers but low in stems. This indicates that chia varieties should be chosen according to the objective of cultivation.
CONCLUSION: These findings, indicating a close relation of metabolite content with irrigation and seed source, may provide the basis for the use of chia flower and stem for their nutraceutical value in the food, feed, and supplement industries.