Chia has been consumed by the world population due to its high fiber, lipids and proteins content. The objective was to evaluate the protein quality of chia untreated (seed and flour) and heat treated (90 °C/20 min), their influence on glucose and lipid homeostasis and integrity of liver and intestinal morphology of Wistar rats. 36 male rats, weanling, divided into six groups which received control diet (casein), free protein diet (aproteic) and four diet tests (chia seed; chia seed with heat treatment; chia flour and chia flour with heat treatment) for 14 days were used. The protein efficiency ratio (PER), net protein ratio (NPR) and true digestibility (TD) were evaluated. The biochemical variables and liver and intestinal morphologies of animals were determined. The values of PER, NPR and TD did not differ among the animals that were fed with chia and were lower than the control group. The animals that were fed with chia showed lower concentrations of glucose; triacylglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and very low-density lipoprotein and higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol than the control group. The liver weight of animals that were fed with chia was lower than the control group. Crypt depth and thickness of intestinal muscle layers were higher in groups that were fed with chia. The consumption of chia has shown good digestibility, hypoglycemic effect, improved lipid and glycemic profiles and reduced fat deposition in liver of animals, and also promoted changes in intestinal tissue that enhanced its functionality.
Keywords: Chia flour; Chia seed; Glucose; Heat treatment; Lipid; Protein digestibility.