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Study of a non traditional source of quality protein


Pallaro, A. N.1, M.S. Feliú1, S.M. Vidueiros1, N. Slobodiank1,
R. Ayerza (h)2, W. Coates2 , e I. Fernández1.
1 Laboratorio de Nutrición Experimental. Cátedra de Nutrición. Facultad de Farmacia
y Bioquímica. Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina,
2 Office of Arid Lands Studies, The University of Arizona,
Tucson, Arizona 85706, USA.


Introduction. During the last century changes in nutritional habits by humans has lead to reduced consumption of vegetables. This is true not only in human nutrition, but in domestic animals as well. This has led to decreased diversity in the types of foods consumed, with the result being decreased nutritional qualities of foods derived from plants.

Objective. The objective was to study the protein quality of a non-traditional source using different biological methods.

Methodology. Chía, a food which originated in the mountainous regions of Mexico and Guatemala was selected as the source. Protein quality was determined following two standardized methodologies, Relative Net Protein Ratio (RNPR) and Net Protein Utilization (NPU). Wistar rats, well nourished when weaned, were used as the test animals. Digestibility (D) was determined in triplicate, with the Biological Value (VB) calculated as NPU / D x 100.

Results. Data from the trial showed the following: RNPR:75.11+ 3.41; NPU:56.90+5.89; D:74.81%; and VB: 76.06+7.88.

Even though the RNPR value was significantly (p<0.001) different from NPU value, no significant difference between RNPR and VB values was detected. The Chemical Score (CS) calculation comparing the essential amino acid pattern of the source protein with the referred protein of preschool kids was 73.20%.

Conclusions. The RNPR and VB values were found not to be statistically different and were comparable to the calculated CS value. These results show that chía is a good quality source of protein and suggests that it should be considered for addition as a non-traditional source of food to the regular diet to complement of other foods.

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