Características nutricionais e funcionais do Amaranto (Amaranthus spp.) [Nutritional and functional characteristics of Amaranth (Amaranthus spp.)]

Nutrire 01/2007; 32(2):91-116.


functional characteristics of Amaranth (Amaranthus spp.). Nutrire: rev. Soc. Bras. Alim. Nutr. = J. Brazilian Soc. Food Nutr., São Paulo, SP, v. 32, n. 2, p. 91-116, ago. 2007. Amaranth is a pseudocereal that has received a lot of interest due to its nutritional, functional and agricultural characteristics, besides its potential use in the food industry. Prior to America colonization, the amaranth grain was considered a holy seed by several pre-Colombian civilizations. It represented the third staple crop for these cultures. Amaranth is among the 36 most promising crops to feed humanity and its cultivation and consumption may increase the food supply to more vulnerable populations. Its leaves (consumed as a vegetable) and its grains (consumed as a cereal) can both be used to prepare bread, cakes, cookies, salad sauces, drinks and other foods. Both the leaf and the grain present exceptional nutritious value. The amaranth grain presents a better amino acid profile as compared to other cereal grains. It is rich in lysine and sulfur amino acids. In the lipid fraction, the high levels of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids and squalene are outstanding. The amount of dietary fiber (4% to 8%) exceeds the level observed in other cereals (around 2%). Regarding minerals, Ca, Fe, Zn, Mg and P are present in noticeable amounts. The claim that amaranth would be a functional food has resulted from studies performed with animals, which have demonstrated the grain capacity to reduce the serum cholesterol levels. It is suggested that this property would be related to synergic effects of its components: protein, dietary fiber, amino acid balance, fatty acids and squalene.

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    • "The small seeds contain considerable levels of high-quality protein (rich in lysine) and low levels of saturated fatty acids in their oil moiety, thus winning room on the healthfood store shelves. In addition to its high nutritional value, amaranth grain has a hypocholesterolaemic potential (Berger et al., 2003; Chatuverdi, Sarojini, & Devi, 1993; Ferreira, Matias, & Arêas, 2007; Plate & Arêas, 2002). Several studies suggested that amaranth's oil fraction because of the favourable fatty acid profile and high content of some unsaponifiable components, as squalene, phytosterols, tocopherols and tocotrienols could be responsible for its beneficial hypocholesterolaemic effects. "
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    ABSTRACT: a b s t r a c t This study describes amaranth's protein cholesterol-lowering effect and investigates its mechanisms hypercholesterolaemia was induced in male hamsters through diet rich in casein (300 g/kg diet) contain-ing regular levels of cholesterol (0.5 kg/g) fed during 3 weeks. Animals were divided into three groups and fed ad libitum diets for 4 weeks containing as the sole source of protein: casein (control), amaranth protein isolate or, casein + amaranth protein isolate. Plasma concentrations of cholesterol and triacylgly-cerols were measured at four different points: at the beginning of the study, after hypercholesterolaemia was induced, in the first week and then at the end of the experimental diet period. The reduction of the total plasma cholesterol concentration at the end of experimental period for animals fed on diets contain-ing amaranth protein isolate pure and with casein were 27% (P < 0.05) and 48% (P < 0.05), respectively, being the non-HDL fractions the most affected. Digestibility of protein as well as excretion of cholesterol and bile acid, were investigated as the possible mechanisms for this significant hypocholesterolaemic effect. Cholesterol excretion was related to the hypocholesterolaemia but could not explain all the observed reduction. Our findings suggest that amaranth protein has a metabolic effect on endogenous cholesterol metabolism.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2009 · Food Chemistry