Plant Foods for Human Nutrition

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

Nutritional quality of the protein in quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, Willd) seeds

  • Jenny Ruales
  • Baboo M. Nair


The nutritional quality of protein in quinoa seeds has been determined by amino acid assay and by animal feeding experiments. The amino acid composition of the protein in raw quinoa and washed quinoa show similar pattern. The first limiting amino acids were the aromatic amino acids thyrosine + phenylalanine giving a chemical score of 86 for protein in raw quinoa and 85 for protein in washed quinoa. Threonine was the next limiting amino acid followed by lysine. The amount of lysine and sulfur amino acids (methionine + cystine) was relatively high. In general, the content of essential amino acids in quinoa is higher than in common cereals. The animal experiments showed NPU values of 75.7, BV of 82.6 and TD value of 91.7 for the protein in raw quinoa. Results of the in-vitro enzymatic methods showed that the digestibility of the protein in quinoa is comparable to that of other high quality food proteins. The corresponding experiments carried out with samples of guinoa seeds, which have been processed to remove the saponins, showed that, the saponins do not exert any negative effect on the nutritive quality of the protein.

Key words

Quinoa protein amino acids BV NPU TD 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. AOAC (1984) Official methods of analysis, 14th edn. Washington, DC: Association of Official Analytical ChemistsGoogle Scholar
  2. Blackburn S (1983) Procedures for the determination of amino acid liquid chromatography. In: Handbook of Chromatography: Amino Acids and Amines, Vol. I. CRC Series in Chromatography, pp. 141–145Google Scholar
  3. Bressani R, Elia LG, Gómez Brenes RA (1972) Improvement of protein quality by amino acid and protein suplementation. In: Bigwood EH (ed.) Protein and Amino Acid Functions. Pergamon Press, pp. 475–540Google Scholar
  4. De Bruin A (1964) Investigation of the food value of quinoa and cañhua seed. J Food Sci 26: 872–876Google Scholar
  5. Cheeke PR (1976) Nutritional and Physiological properties of saponins. Nutr Reports International 13(3): 315–325Google Scholar
  6. Eggum BO (1970) Nutritional evaluation of proteins by laboratory animals, i bender m. fl.: Evaluation of Novel Protein Products, PergamonGoogle Scholar
  7. Eggum BO (1968) Aminosyrekoncentration og Proteinkvalitet. Stougaards Forlag. Landokonomisk Forsogslaboratorium, KobenhavnGoogle Scholar
  8. FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation (1985) Energy and protein requirements. Technical Report. Series 724Google Scholar
  9. FNB (Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council) (1980) Recommended Dietary Allowances, 9th edn. National Acadmey of sciences, Washington DC, pp. 39–54Google Scholar
  10. Gross R, Koch F, Malaga, I, de Miranda AF, Schoenberger H, Trugo LC (1989) Chemical composition and qality of some local Andean food sources. Food Chem 34: 25–34Google Scholar
  11. Hopkins DT (1981) Effects of variation in protein digestibility. In: Protein Quality in Humans: Assesment and in vitro Estimations. AVI Publishing Company, Inc. Westport, Connecticut, pp. 169–193Google Scholar
  12. López de Romaña G, Creed HM, Graham GG (1978) comunes peruanos. Tolerancia y digestibilidad en infantes desnutridos. Arch Latinoamericanos de Nutr 28(4): 419–433Google Scholar
  13. López de Romaña G, Graham GG, Rojas M, MacLena W Jr (1981) Digestibilidad y calidad proteica de la quinoa: estudio comparativo, en niños, entre semilla y harina de quinoa, Arch Latinoamericanos de Nutr 31(3): 485–497Google Scholar
  14. Mahoney AW, López JG, Hendricks DG (1975) An evaluation of protein quality of quinoa, J Agr Food Chem 23(2): 190–193Google Scholar
  15. Matoba T, Yonezawa D, Nair BM, Kito M (1984) Damage of amino acid residues of proteins after reduction with oxiding lipids: estimation by proteolitic enzymes. J Food Sci, 49: 1082–1084Google Scholar
  16. Nair BM (1977) Gas-liquid chromatographic analysis of amino acids in food samples. J Agric Food Chem 25(3): 614–620Google Scholar
  17. Öste R, Nair BM, Dahlqvist A (1976) A simple method for determination of tryptopha in food samples. J of Agricultural and Food chemistry 24-6: 386Google Scholar
  18. Passmore R, and Eastwood MA (1986) Proteins. In: Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 8th edn. Churchill Livingston, pp. 40–53.Google Scholar
  19. Pike RL and Brown ML (1984) Determination of nutrient needs: energy, protein, minerals. In: Nutrition. An Integrated Approach, 3rd edn. John Wiley & Son, pp. 736–794Google Scholar
  20. Price, KR, Johnson IT, Fendwick GH (1987) The chemical and biological significance of saponins in foods and feedingstuffs. CRC Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 26(1): 27–135Google Scholar
  21. Romero JA (1981) Evaluación de las características físicas, químicas y biológicas de ocho variedades de guinua (Chenopodium guina, willd). Magister Scientifica Thesis. Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, GuatemalaGoogle Scholar
  22. Sánchez A (1983) Dos Cultivos Olvidados de Importancia Agroindustrial. El Amaranto y la Quinoa. Arch Latinoamericanos de Nutr 33(1): 13–32Google Scholar
  23. Satterlee LD, Kendrick JG, Marshall HF, Jewel DK, Ali RA, Heckman MM, Steinke HF, Larson P, Philips RD, Sarwar G, Slump P (1982) In vitro assay for predicting protein efficiency ratio as measured by rat bioassay: collaboratoive study. J. Assoc Off Anal Chem 65(4): 799–800Google Scholar
  24. The Swedish National Good Administration (1986) Livsmedelstabeller, Uppsala, SwedenGoogle Scholar
  25. Tellería ML, Sgarbieri, VC, Amaya JF (1978) Evaluación quimica y biológica de la quinoa. (Chenopodium quinoa, Willd). Influencia de la extracción de las saponinas por tratamiento térmico. Arch Latinoamericanos de Nutr 28(3): 253–263Google Scholar
  26. Varriano-Marston E DeFrancisco A (1984) Ultrastructure of quinoa fruit (Chenopodium quinoa Willd). Food Microstructure 3: 165–173Google Scholar
  27. White PL, Alvistur E, Dias C, Viñas, E, White HS, Collazos C (1955) Nutrient content and protein quality of quinoa and cañihua, edible seed produce of the Andes Mountains. Agric and Food Chem 3(6): 521–534Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenny Ruales
    • 1
    • 2
  • Baboo M. Nair
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry, Chemical CenterUniversity of LundLundSweden
  2. 2.Instituto de Investigaciones TecnológicasEscuela Politécnica NacionalQuitoEcuador

Personalised recommendations