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Is perilla the new chia? It's time for perilla to 'step out of the shadows of other plant-based omega-3s', says Valensa

By Elaine WATSON , 06-Mar-2013
Last updated on 06-Mar-2013 at 02:17 GMT

Picture credit: Valensa International
Picture credit: Valensa International

By rights, perilla seeds should be the first choice for firms looking for good sources of the omega-3 fatty acid Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) ahead of chia and flaxseed, because they are cheaper, have higher concentrations of ALA and a better taste profile, says Florida-based Valensa International.

Perilla seeds should “step out of the shadows of other plant-based omega-3s” says Valensa, which has just launched a new range of formulations containing supercritical CO2 perilla seed extract.

While chia can taste “grassy” and flaxseed can taste “like paint”, perilla seed oil has a mild taste and contains higher percentages of ALA, Valensa president Dr. Rudi E. Moerck, told FoodNavigator-USA.

“Perilla seeds contain 40-45% oil while chia seeds contain 30-32% oil. And typically 50% to 60% of the oil is ALA content, which is twice that of chia seed extract.”

The highest ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids of any known seed oil

At 6:1, perilla also has the highest ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids of any known seed oil, claimed Dr Moerck, who said Valensa sources its perilla seeds from Korea and China. "The price is pretty stable as perilla is grown for its leaves, not its seeds, which are a byproduct.

The fact that the industry is reporting shortages of chia seeds is indicative of the demand for high quality plant-based omega-3s.

“While we’re continuing to market chia-based products, we feel the time is right for supplement and functional food marketers to take a fresh look at supercritical CO2 perilla seed extract and perilla extract blends.

“When you analyze what nutritional professionals and consumers are looking for, it is clear that perilla seed extract meets or exceeds those expectations – higher levels of ALA, a better ratio of essential fatty acids and a better taste profile.”

VerillaMax Perilla Seed Flour contains 40% protein and 40% fiber and is ideal for sports nutrition products

Valensa's Verilla perilla seed extract is available as oil, in softgels, capsules and in gummy bear form, while its new VerillaMax Perilla Seed Flour is a 40% protein, 40% fiber dry product targeting functional foods and bars.

Valensa has also combined the perilla seed extract with other ingredients in the following formulations: Kerilla Perilla Seed Extract + Krill Oil; Z-Omega 3-6-9 (perilla seed extract plus chia seed extract and olive fruit extract); and Zanthin XP-3 (perilla seed extract plus Valensa’s Zanthin natural astaxanthin).

All of the above utilize Valensa’s O2B peroxidation blocker system for enhanced shelf life – with a minimum of two years.

By contrast, many expeller-pressed perilla seed oil products are "highly unstable", and have a shelf life of just 30-days, claimed Dr Moerck.