The seeds (grains) of the amaranth plant have been used for thousands of years, particularly in Central America and Mexico. It is currently cultivated and consumed in many parts of the world.
Although many varieties of amaranth are considered weeds, some varieties are cultivated for using the plant’s leaves, roots, and cereal grains for food and medicinal purposes.
When consumed as food, amaranth is likely to be safe. However, how safe it is to be used as a medicine is still unknown.
What are the health benefits of eating amaranth?
Amaranth grain is a highly nutritional pseudocereal that contains superior amounts of protein than any other cereal. It is packed with nearly double the amount of protein found in corn or rice. The icing on the cake is that it is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.
One serving of cooked amaranth (which equals ¼ cup of uncooked amaranth) gives:
- Calories: 180
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 7 grams
The leaves, seeds, and roots of amaranth are edible and can benefit you in maintaining good health. Its protein content and amino acid composition are somewhere in between those of cereal and a bean.
Amaranth also contains lunasin, a type of protein believed to have anti-in?ammatory and cancer-preventive bene?ts. Its anti-inflammatory effects can help in reducing the risk of diseases, such as diabetes and heart diseases.
Traditionally, amaranth has been used for
- Swollen mouth
However, there are insufficient studies to prove these benefits.
Amaranth is also used to treat high cholesterol but seems to be ineffective as observed in studies done on humans. When people with high cholesterol were put on a low-fat diet that included amaranth oil or muffins enriched with amaranth, this kind of diet exerted the same effects as a simply low-fat diet in lowering the cholesterol.
Despite the lack of sufficient evidence to prove amaranth’s role in providing medicinal benefits, it does no harm to include amaranth in your diet considering its impressive nutritional profile.
What are the different ways in which you can eat amaranth?
There are various ways in which amaranth grain is processed. Out of them, the expanded grain form seems to be widely consumed. Other forms of consumption include:
- Cooking in water: Put one cup of dried grain in cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes yielding 2.5 cups of cooked grain.
- Putting into flakes or pasta
- Baking into biscuits
In Mexico, amaranth is incorporated in the form of popcorn into cookies called ‘Alegria.’ In Asia, Indians consume amaranth as a high-protein and fiber-rich cereal that can be used in place of wheat. Another form is known as ‘laddoo,’ which is a petit sweet dish prepared with puffed amaranth seeds and jaggery. Indians use this form of amaranth as a source of calcium and iron, especially after delivery.
If you want to stock wholegrain of amaranth, remember to store it in the pantry for not more than 4 months and in the freezer for 8 months. In the case of the whole amaranth ?our, the accepted storage period becomes shorter. The flour can be kept in the pantry for only 2 months and in the freezer for up to 4 months.
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Caselato-Sousa VM, Amaya-Farfán J. State of knowledge on amaranth grain: a comprehensive review. J Food Sci. April 2012;77(4):R93-104. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22515252/
Oldways Whole Grains Council. Amaranth - May Grain of the Month. https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/grain-month-calendar/amaranth-may-grain-month
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