Evaluation of Alternative Sources of Proteins and Other Nutrients with Potential Applications in Fish Nutrition

Molecules. 2024 May 15;29(10):2332. doi: 10.3390/molecules29102332.


The European Union's (EU) agricultural self-sufficiency is challenged by its reliance on imported plant proteins, particularly soy from the Americas, contributing to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Addressing the EU's protein deficit, this study evaluates alternative protein sources for aquaculture, focusing on their nutritional value, elemental content, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Protein flours from gastropods (Helix pomatia, Arion lusitanicus, Arion vulgaris) and their hepatopancreas, along with plant-based proteins from food industry by-products (oilcakes, coffee grounds, spent brewer's yeast), were analyzed. Results revealed that snail flour contained the highest protein content at 59.09%, significantly outperforming hepatopancreas flour at 42.26%. Plant-based proteins demonstrated substantial nutritional value, with coffee grounds flour exhibiting a remarkable protein content of 71.8% and spent brewer's yeast flour at 57.9%. Elemental analysis indicated high levels of essential minerals such as magnesium in hepatopancreas flour (5719.10 mg/kg) and calcium in slug flour (48,640.11 mg/kg). However, cadmium levels in hepatopancreas flour (11.45 mg/kg) necessitate caution due to potential health risks. PAH concentrations were low across all samples, with the highest total PAH content observed in hepatopancreas flour at 0.0353 µg/kg, suggesting minimal risk of PAH-related toxicity. The analysis of plant-based protein sources, particularly oilcakes derived from sunflower, hemp, flax, and pumpkin seeds, revealed that these by-products not only exhibit high protein contents but present a promising avenue for enhancing the nutritional quality of feed. This study underscores the potential of utilizing gastropod and plant-based by-products as sustainable and nutritionally adequate alternatives to conventional feeds in aquaculture, contributing to the EU's environmental sustainability goals.

Keywords: alternative protein; aquaculture; gastropod; minerals; nutrition; plant-based; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis
  • Animals
  • Aquaculture / methods
  • Fishes / metabolism
  • Hepatopancreas / chemistry
  • Hepatopancreas / metabolism
  • Nutrients / analysis
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Plant Proteins / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis


  • Plant Proteins
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons