Physicochemical Characteristics and Nutrient Composition of Three Grain Amaranth Species Grown in Hirna, Eastern Ethiopia
There is a growing interest in the cultivation of pseudo-cereals like amaranth and quinoa because of their nutritional merits for healthy food markets. In Ethiopia, domesticated cultivation of amaranth is limited (virtually non- existent). The aim of this research was to investigate the grain physicochemical characteristics of three different grain amaranth species (Amaranthus caudatus-red seed, Amaranthus hypochondriacus-white seed, and Amaranthus cruentus-black seed) collected from different parts of Ethiopia and cultivated in eastern part of Ethiopia. The percentage moisture, crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, ash and carbohydrate contents were ranged from 10.4 to 11.3, 13.0 to 15.1, 7.0 to 7.5, 4.8 to 5.8, 2.1 to 3.4 and 57.3 to 58.5, respectively. The energy (k cal/100g), TKW (g), HLW (kg/hL) and grain size (diameter in mm) were ranged from 348.8-357.3, 0.4-0.5 g, 90.8-91.3 and 0.9-1.1, respectively. The amaranth grain species were rich in crude protein, fat and fiber as compared to common cereal grains (sorghum, tef, and rice) and are small in their grains size. The amaranths grain starch amylose studied were ranged from 13.5-35.4%. The grains Na, Ca, Cu, Fe, K, Mg and Zn contents (mg/100g) were ranged from 17.7-24.8, 73.4-175.6, 0.8-1.1, 17.5-32.5, 159.6-201.2, 74.2-123.5 and 2.8-3.5, respectively. There were significant difference (p < 0.05) on the mineral nutrient contents (Ca, Mg and K) among the three amaranth grain species. The amaranth grains can contribute significant Na, Cu, Fe, K, Mg and Zn to human nutrition. The high contents of protein, fat, fiber and mineral nutrients, balanced amino acids, the possibility of squalene a functional compound known to be associated with the amaranth fat contents justifies cultivation of amaranths in Ethiopia to contribute for food security. Studies to incorporate amaranths grains in different traditional Ethiopian foods for the production of nutritious and health supporting foods should be envisaged.