Amaranth was a staple food of the Aztecs and is still a part of the Central American diet. But now, amaranth has gained popularity all over the US as people have become aware of the powerful health benefits of amaranth, and its’ nutritional value.
The word “amaranth: is a Greek word that means “unfading.” This plant is given that name because the flowers of this plant can be shown all summer long.
Health benefits of amaranth:
However, the popularity of amaranth is not due to its flowers, but it is its seeds that became so popular over time. Amaranth seeds can be used in the same way as grains like rice and oats.
Amaranth contains fiber and protein, which are important nutrients for overall health. Moreover, the presence of antioxidants in amaranth makes it good against various diseases. There are many other health benefits of this plant as well, such as:
1. Amaranth nutritional value:
Amaranth is an ancient grain with a lot of healthy nutrients. It contains protein and fiber in high amounts. Moreover, it also contains magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and manganese. Only one cup of amaranth contains:
- Calories:251 grams
- Carbs: 46 grams
- Fat: 5.2 grams
- Manganese: 105% of the daily recommended value
- Protein: 9.3 grams
- Magnesium: 40% of the daily recommended value
- Selenium: 19% of the daily recommended value
- Iron: 29% of the daily recommended value
- Phosphorus: 36% of the daily recommended value
- Copper: 18% of the daily recommended value
Amaranth contains a high amount of manganese. In fact, even one serving can provide the daily recommended value of manganese.
This mineral is very important for brain health as it improves brain functioning and reduces the risk of diseases related to the brain.
Moreover, the high quantity of magnesium present in it is also an important nutrient for the body as it takes part in many reactions in the body, including muscle contraction and DNA synthesis.
Amaranth contains phosphorus, a very important mineral for bone health. It also contains iron which can increase the production of blood.
2. It contains antioxidants:
Antioxidants are also present in our body naturally, which can help our body protect against free radicals. These free radicals are very dangerous as they can damage the cells and cause many chronic diseases.
Amaranth contains many antioxidants. According to a study (aléria Maria Caselato-Sousa, 2012), amaranth contains phenolic acids like gallic acid, vanillic acid, and hydroxy benzoic acid.
These phenolic acids are plant compounds and work as antioxidants to protect the human body against heart diseases and cancer.
Amaranth can also increase the activity of certain antioxidants, which helps protect the liver. But to get all of these above benefits, try to eat amaranth in raw form.
The antioxidants are present in higher amounts in raw form, but they can be decreased during soaking or processing.
3. Can help with weight loss:
Amaranth can be a good option to add to your daily diet plan if you want to lose weight. Amaranth is high in fiber and protein, and both of these nutrients can make your weight loss journey easier by reducing fats rapidly.
A diet high in protein and fiber can make you feel full for longer, which means you can lessen your caloric intake because you are not hungry as quickly.
According to a study (Blom, 2006), eating breakfast high in protein can reduce the level of ghrelin, a compound that can stimulate hunger. So, a high protein diet can reduce appetite and calorie intake.
Moreover, the high amount of fiber present in amaranth also promotes the feeling of fullness. The fiber can slow down the digestion process and remain In the gastrointestinal tract for a longer time than other nutrients, which makes you feel full for longer.
A study of women (Larry A Tucker, 2009) found out that taking a high fiber diet with foods like amaranth can decrease the risk of gaining weight and extra body fat. To get the benefits of amaranth in losing weight, pair it up with regular exercise and a healthy diet.
4. Helps to lower cholesterol levels:
Cholesterol is basically a fat-like substance that is present throughout the body. Every person has cholesterol in their body, but a higher cholesterol level can cause many health issues.
For example, if there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it can narrow down the arteries, which can further cause the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
Some studies found the positive effect of amaranth on reducing the level of cholesterol. One study was done on hamsters about amaranth oil and amaranth seeds (Berger, 2003).
It found that amaranth oil can reduce the bad cholesterol in the body by 15-20%. Also, amaranth seeds can also help in reducing bad cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol.
So a diet consisting of amaranth, whether it’s amaranth oil or grains, can be very helpful, especially for people who are suffering from high cholesterol levels.
5. Amaranth can reduce inflammation:
Inflammation is a normal response that is naturally developed in our body for protection against injury or infection.
However, chronic inflammation can be dangerous and can lead to many chronic diseases like cancer, autoimmune disorder, and diabetes.
Several studies have found that amaranth could have anti-inflammatory properties. For example, according to a study (Hibi, 2003), amaranth can reduce the production of immunoglobulin E, a type of antibody that takes part in inflammation.
Another test-tube study (Montoya-Rodríguez, 2014) has found a reduction in several inflammation markers after the usage of amaranth.
6. Amaranth is naturally gluten-free:
Gluten is a type of protein that can be found in many different grains like barley, wheat, spelled, and rye. Gluten can trigger the immune system of people suffering from celiac disease and cause inflammation in the digestive tract.
Some people also have gluten sensitivity which makes them experience negative symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and gas if they add gluten to their diet.
Amaranth can be a great option for such conditions as it is naturally gluten-free and can be enjoyed by everyone, especially those who are on a gluten-free diet.
7. Rich source of vitamins:
Amaranth not only contains antioxidants, fibers, and protein, but it is also a great source of many vitamins essential for our body. It contains:
- Vitamin A: Amaranth leaves contain a higher amount of vitamin A. One cup of these leaves can fulfill 97% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A. It is an anti-oxidative vitamin, which is very important for healthy skin and vision.
- Vitamin K: Amaranth has the highest amount of vitamin K if compared with all other leafy green vegetables. Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting and bone health as well. This vitamin also strengthens bone mass by promoting osteoblastic activity. Vitamin K can also be beneficial for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as it can reduce neural damage.
- B Vitamins: Amaranth also contains vitamins from the B group like riboflavin, thiamin, folate, and vitamin B6. These B vitamins are very important, especially during pregnancy, as these can prevent birth defects in newborns and premature birth. These vitamins are also important for mental and physical health.
Health benefits of amaranth leaves:
The leaves of this plant are edible! They are also rich in fiber and other nutrients essential for the human body. These leaves are superior to many other leafy greens because of the tons of nutrients present.
Amaranth leaves can be green, golden, purple, or red in color, depending upon the area they grow in. There are a lot of health benefits which can be obtained from these leaves, such as:
1. Good for those with anemia:
Iron is a very important mineral needed by our body to produce red blood cells and also for cellular metabolism. Amaranth leaves can provide iron and are beneficial for those who are suffering from blood deficiency.
To maximize the benefit, add some vitamin C with amaranth leaves to increase the absorption of iron in the blood. You can squeeze a lemon on the amaranth leaf dish or drink orange juice with it.
2. It contains lysine:
Amaranth leaves contain lysine, which is an important amino acid needed for absorbing calcium and producing energy.
Lysine can also be very beneficial for skin and hair health. That’s why amaranth leaves have been used in many skin and hair remedies for centuries. Eating amaranth leaves can also reduce hair loss and graying of hair.
3. Rich in calcium:
Amaranth leaves are also a great source of calcium, an important mineral for bone health. Intake of a diet rich in calcium can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases.
So, adding amaranth leaves to the daily diet routine can be a good option for those who are suffering from health issues related to calcium deficiency.
4. Easy to digest:
Regular consumption of amaranth leaves have known to be beneficial for digestion. Amaranth leaves are-offered to the people who recovered from illness or those who were fasting because they are easy on the stomach. Amaranth leaves are also considered to be very useful for diarrhea.
5. Low in calories:
Amaranth leaves are very low in calories. 100 grams of these leaves contain only 23 calories, making them a good option for those trying to lose weight.
These leaves don’t have any kind of fat or cholesterol In them, which makes these a healthy option for almost everyone.
Where to buy amaranth?
The leaves are best bought fresh from a farmer’s market or farm stand, or grown in your garden. There are several types of commercially available amaranth products, which include:
How to store amaranth?
Amaranth is available in the season from midsummer until December. Most amaranth in the US is sold in dried form, which is available all year long.
Amaranth or amaranth flour can be found easily in specialty grocery stores. And now, it is becoming more common in farmers’ markets, health food stores, and large supermarkets.
Amaranth can also be kept for a long period of time if sealed in an air-tight container. Amaranth flour can also be made by grinding the grains in a food processor. This flour can remain fresh for up to 8 months in the freezer.
How to cook amaranth?
Amaranth is a versatile plant that is easy to cook and can be used in a variety of dishes. Before cooking amaranth, soak it in the water for one to two days and let the grains germinate. These fermented grains will be easier to digest.
To cook amaranth, add it to the pan, add water with it in a 3:1 ratio, and heat the water until it boils. When it starts boiling, lower the heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Then, add some salt or spices according to your taste and enjoy as an accompaniment for your main meal.
More uses for amaranth:
There are many other ways as well, through which you can enjoy amaranth:
- Pop dried amaranth and eat it as a snack
- Mix the grains into soups and stews to increase the thickness
- Make it into breakfast cereal by adding nuts and fruits or cinnamon to it
- Use in the dishes in place of rice and paste
- Blend it into smoothies for more protein and fiber content
- Make amaranth flour and bake with it
Conclusion on the health benefits of amaranth:
Amaranth is a versatile plant in which grains and leaves are both used for cooking purposes and contain many health benefits. The seeds have a high nutritional value, as it contains a higher amount of fiber, protein, and antioxidants.
Amaranth also contains vitamins and minerals like potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamin A, vitamin K, and B vitamins.
These grains can provide benefits to almost every organ of the body. For example, copper and manganese present in amaranth provide antioxidant benefits to the body.
The presence of iron is important for producing red blood cells, and zinc is essential for the proper growth and development of the human body.
This plant is naturally gluten-free and can be good for those on a gluten-free diet. Another benefit that makes this grain so popular is that it can help weight loss. The low calorie and high fiber content present in these grains make them a holy grail for any diet.
Other related articles:
- What Is Fonio?
- Sorghum Nutrition
- 11 Amazing Benefits Of Oatmeal
- Is Buckwheat Gluten Free?
- Is Quinoa Gluten Free?
- Are Garbanzos Good For You?
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