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Dry heat popping of amaranth seed might damage some of its essential amino acids

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Amaranth was a major crop among the Aztecs. In Mexico the seed is popped and eaten with brown sugar. The crude protein content of the seed is 14±2% but its contents of lysine and tryptophan are 6.2 and 1.6 g/16 g N respectively. We developed a popping method based on a fluid bed system (FBS) whereas the traditional method (TM) is just to pop the seeds manually in a hot plate. Assays carried out were evaluation of racemization of the amaranth protein due to heat treatment, amino acid composition of the raw and heat treated seeds and a biological experiment testing whether leucine was the most limiting amino acid of amaranth protein. Male rats were fed both popped amaranths and roasted amaranth. Parboiled amaranth and casein were controls. The results were: (a) Lys, Arg and Cys were damaged in the heat treated seeds; (b) Asp, Met, Glu, Ala and Phe were racemized in that decreasing order in the seeds popped and roasted by the TM; (c) the estimated net protein retention (NPR) and estimated net protein utilization (NPU) of popped amaranths by either method were not different, but were lower than for the parboiled amaranth. The parboiled amaranth was not different from casein; (d) Leu was not the most limiting amino acid in any of the amaranth seeds tested. After Lys, sulfur amino acids appear to be the next most limiting in severely heat treated amaranth. The FBS seems to be a promising method for popping amaranth at industrial level.

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Correspondence to Luis Raul Tovar.

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Tovar, L.R., Brito, E., Takahashi, T. et al. Dry heat popping of amaranth seed might damage some of its essential amino acids. Plant Food Hum Nutr 39, 299–309 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01092066

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Key words

  • amaranth seeds
  • popping
  • net protein retention
  • lysine and sulfur amino acids
  • protein racemization