Amaranth is a plant with several benefits. It is native to Mexico and Central America. The leaves and seeds of this plant are edible and provide various nutritional benefits. Amaranth was used as a staple food by the Aztecs in the past. The leaves and seeds (also called Kiwicha seeds in Peruvian) of this plant are emerging as a popular “superfood” because of the many health benefits they offer. Both the seeds and leaves of the plant are gluten-free and rich in protein, fiber, minerals, and other nutrients. Gluten is the general name given to the protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, which may not be tolerated by some people because of health conditions such as gluten allergy or celiac disease. Amaranth seeds come in the category of pseudocereals (not true cereals, but includes plants such as amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat that produce fruits and seeds but are not a part of the grass family). Amaranth grain can be consumed as amaranth flour in several preparations, popped amaranth and amaranth flakes.
One-fourth cup of dry, uncooked amaranth grains contains different minerals shown in the below chart.
7 Health benefits of amaranth
Moreover, amaranth is a rich source of several other nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals including iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and selenium.
Seven various health benefits of amaranth include
- Rich in protein: Amaranth is rich in protein that is needed for overall health. The protein quality of amaranth is considered as good as animal proteins, such as those found in cheese. This is especially beneficial for growing children because it is absorbed better and provides various amino acids needed for their growth and development. Amaranth provides gluten-free protein, which can be consumed even by people with health conditions such as gluten allergy or celiac disease.
- Good for gut health: Both the seeds and leaves are rich in fiber. Fiber aids in the digestion system, prevents constipation, and maintains gut health.
- Promotes cardiovascular health: Amaranth has several nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that maintain heart health, regulate blood pressure and lower blood cholesterol levels. Plant sterols or phytosterols found in amaranth particularly have cholesterol-lowering properties. The high potassium content of amaranth also maintains heart health and regulates blood pressure.
- Managing anemia: Amaranth is rich in iron and can thus help manage low iron levels in the body that cause anemia (low hemoglobin or red blood cells in the blood).
- The health of bones and teeth: Calcium and vitamin K present in amaranth help maintain healthy bones and teeth.
- Healthy skin and vision: Amaranth has plenty of antioxidants including vitamin A that help keep the skin and eyes healthy.
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties: Several studies have reported that amaranth may help prevent cancer. Various antioxidants and other nutrients such as the peptide lunasin found in amaranth are known for their anti-inflammatory and cancer-prevention properties. The anti-inflammatory properties may help prevent various diseases including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
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