Chemical composition and nutritional quality of sea cucumbers

J Sci Food Agric. 2010 Nov;90(14):2469-74. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.4108.


Background: The dried form of sea cucumbers has been a seafood and medicinal cure for Asians over many centuries. In this study the chemical composition and nutritional quality of eight common sea cucumbers (Stichopus herrmanni, Thelenota ananas, Thelenota anax, Holothuria fuscogilva, Holothuria fuscopunctata, Actinopyga mauritiana, Actinopyga caerulea and Bohadschia argus) were determined.

Results: All species except T. anax and A. caerulea had higher protein and lower fat levels. A. mauritiana and B. argus had less ash content. Glycine was the dominant amino acid found in all species, and content ranged from 126 to 216 mg g(-1) of crude protein. All species exhibited low lysine:arginine ratio and higher essential amino acid scores were obtained by threonine and phenylalanine + tyrosine. A. mauritiana had proportionally less saturated fatty acids (31.23%), and more monounsaturated fatty acids (45.64%) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA, 23.13%) than other species. Arachidonic acid (C20:4n-6) was the major PUFA in all species. T. ananas, A. mauritiana and A. caerulea contained more n-3 PUFA. The n-3/n-6 ratios of eight sea cucumbers species ranged from 0.25 to 0.61.

Conclusion: Sea cucumbers are a seafood with high protein and low fat levels. The amino acid contents were similar but fatty acid profiles were different among species. The comparison showed that T. ananas, A. mauritiana and B. argus possessed higher nutritional values than other sea cucumber species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Dietary Fats / analysis*
  • Dietary Proteins / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Nutritive Value
  • Sea Cucumbers / chemistry*
  • Seafood / analysis*
  • Species Specificity


  • Amino Acids
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Fatty Acids