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Coates, W. and R. Ayerza. 2009. Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) seed as an {omega}-3 fatty acid source for finishing pigs: effects on fatty acid composition and fat stability of the meat and internal fat, growth performance, and meat sensory characteristics. J. Anim Sci. 1910. doi:10.2527/jas.2009-1987v1-20091889

CHD is caused by arteriosclerosis, which is triggered by an unbalanced fatty acid profile in the body. Today western diets are typically low in {omega}-3 fatty acids and high in saturated and {omega}-6 fatty acids; consequently, healthier foods are needed. Chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.), which contains the highest known plant source of {omega}-3 {alpha}-linolenic acid, was fed at the rate of 10 and 20% to finishing pigs, with the goal being to determine if this new crop would increase the {omega}-3 content of the meat as has been reported for other {omega}-3 fatty acid-rich crops. Chia’s effect on fatty acid composition of the meat, internal fats, growth performance, and meat sensory characteristics were determined. Productive performance was unaffected by dietary treatment. Chia seed modified the fatty acid composition of the meat fat, but not of the internal fat. Significantly (P<0.05) less palmitic, stearic, and arachidic acids were found with both chia treatments. This is different than trials in which flaxseed, another plant based source of {omega}-3 fatty acid, has been fed. Alpha-linolenic acid content increased with increasing chia content of the diet, however, only the effect of the 20% ration was significantly (P<0.05) different from that of the control. Chia seed did increase panel member preferences for aroma and flavor of the meat. This study tends to show that chia seems to be a viable feed that can produce healthier pork for human consumption.

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