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The nutritive value of amaranth grain (Amaranthus caudatus)

1. Protein and minerals of raw and processed grain


The nutritional value of three pale seeded and one dark seeded variety ofAmaranthus caudatus was studied by chemical analyses and in balance experiments with growing rats. Effects of processing: popping, toasting and flaking were also examined. The pale seeds contained about 14% protein, 10% fat, 2.5% ash, 64% starch and 8% of dietary fibre. The black seeds had a much higher content of fibre (16%). The concentration of essential amino acids were high. Lysine ranged from 5.2–6.0 g/16 g N in the grains, and the limiting amino acids were leucine followed by valine or threonine. The grains contained small amounts of tannin (0.3%) and heat-labile protease inhibitor activity, at levels typical of common cereal grains. Digestibility of protein in the pale seeds was high (87%) and quite unaffected by processing. Protein digestibility of the black seeds was lower, and the digestibility was further reduced by toasting. The biological value of the protein was similar in all products, and very high. The content of minerals varied among varieties and was also affected by processing. Phytate: zinc molar ratios were high in most products, and rats fed the amaranth samples with the lowest zinc contents were in negative zinc balance. In general, femur zinc concentrations were rather low. However, amaranth is an unconventional crop which deserves further attention.

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Correspondence to Birthe Pedersen.

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Pedersen, B., Kalinowski, L.S. & Eggum, B.O. The nutritive value of amaranth grain (Amaranthus caudatus). Plant Food Hum Nutr 36, 309–324 (1987).

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Key words

  • amaranth grain
  • processing
  • utilization of protein
  • zinc and other minerals