PERTH, AUSTRALIA — Known for its levels of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, chia also may offer functional benefits. According to a study from Curtin University in Perth, chia seed gel shows potential as a thickening agent, an emulsifying agent and a stabilizer in food applications.

The study appeared on-line April 15 in the Journal of Food Science. Researchers found extracted chia seed gel was similar to guar gum and gelatin in regard to such properties as water-holding capacity, oil-holding capacity, viscosity, emulsion activity and freeze-thaw stability.

Chia gel is a polysaccharide-based gel that mainly consists of fiber (58%) and other carbohydrates (34%).