In general, seaweed protein is rich in glycine, arginine, alanine, and glutamic acid, and contains all the essential amino acids, the levels of which are comparable to those of the FAO/WHO requirements of dietary proteins (Anonymous, 2006). However, when compared with the other protein-rich food sources, seaweed is appeared to be limiting with lysine and cystine. With respect to the protein level and amino acid composition, the amino acid score and the essential amino acid index were higher in red seaweed than those in brown and green seaweeds (Holdt and Kraan, 2011). The amino acid score of the proteins in some red seaweed such as Porphyra spp. and Undaria spp. was 91 and 100, respectively, the same as that in animal-derived foods (Murata and Nakazoe, 2001). Red seaweed contains the highest protein content, which is comparable in quantitative terms to legumes at 30-40% of dry matter, and brown and green seaweeds contain only 15% and 30%, respectively (Murata and Nakazoe, 2001). A comparative study carried out with several red and brown seaweeds revealed that protein content of red seaweed species Porphyra palmate and Porphyra tenera ranged from 21% to 47% and that in brown seaweeds Laminaria japónica and Undaria pinnatifida ranged from 7% to 16% (Marsham et al., 2007). Therefore, most of the edible red seaweeds can be considered as a good source of protein to be included in the diet.
However, aspartic and glutamic acid that exhibit interesting properties in flavor development are less in red seaweed compared to that in brown seaweed. In addition, the blue-green alga, Spirulina, is well known for its very high protein content which is close to 70% of the dry matter. The in vivo digestibility of seaweed proteins is not well documented. However, the extractability and the in vitro digestibility of seaweed protein attain more than 80% irrespective of the species (Fleurence, 1999).
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