Health benefits of Amaranth
What is Amaranth?
Amaranth is a group of sixty different species of grains cultivated from ancient times. The grains are gluten-free and rich in fiber, protein, and micronutrients. The grains have a nutty, sweet flavor that works well for various dishes.
Key facts of Amaranth
- Amaranth is an herbaceous shrub that is either annual or perennial across the genus.
- Some amaranth species are also cultivated for their leafy vegetables or to be used as ornamental plants.
- Amaranth is an indigenous plant of Central America and Mexico
- Although called grains, Amaranth is grown for its edible seeds and not grains.
- Amaranth is called ‘pseudocereal’ as it is used like a grain and is considered a whole grain due to its nutritional value. Moreover, it is not in the same botanical family as true cereals.
- It first originated in Peru, but now it is available worldwide
- It is a traditional breakfast cereal in India, Nepal, and Mexico
- Amaranth, in recent times, is considered a superfood due to its multiple health benefits
Nutritional values of Amaranth
One cup (246 grams) of cooked Amaranth consists of the following
- Carbohydrate-46 gms (grams)
- Protein-9.3 gms
- Fats-5.2 gms
- Magnesium-40% of RDI(recommended daily intake)
- Manganese-105% of RDI
- Iron-29% of RDI
- Phosphorus-36% of RDI
- Copper-18% of RDI
- Selenium-19% of RDI
Apart from these, it also contains several other micronutrients
Health benefits of Amaranth
The health benefits of Amaranth consist of the following:
- Helping in growth and development
- Acting as an antioxidant
- Good for celiac disease
- Helps in decreasing inflammation
- Helps in reducing body weight
- Helps in reducing the body’s cholesterol
Helps in growth and development
- Amaranth contains the essential amino acid lysine in much more significant quantities than other grains.
- Lysine is needed for the body for proper growth and development. Amino acids are the construction blocks of proteins.
Act as an Antioxidant
- Amaranth grains are rich in antioxidants.
- Antioxidants are compounds that nullify the free radicals in our body. The free radicals in the body contribute to our cell aging and cell destruction that, ultimately, leads to chronic diseases
- Amaranth contains phenolic acids such as gallic acid and, para-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid that can help protect against cancer and heart diseases
- Phenolic acids are plant compounds having antioxidant properties
Good for celiac disease
- People with celiac disease must go for gluten-free products as consuming gluten might damage the digestive tract in such individuals. People with gluten allergy might experience stomach gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea
- Amaranth is a good alternative for those with celiac disease and gluten allergy
- Inflammation is a normal process against the body’s injury and infection.
- Persistent inflammation can lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
- Amaranth reduces the inflammatory markers in the body.
- It also obstructs immunoglobulin E production in an animal study.
However, more research is warranted to prove the effect of Amaranth on inflammation
Helps with weight loss
- Amaranth is rich in fibers and proteins. Both play a crucial role in the weight loss process.
- Amaranth moves through the gut(gastrointestinal tract) undigested and reduces hunger and gives the feeling of fullness
- It decreases the levels of ghrelin hormone responsible for stimulating hunger
However, further research is much needed to prove the effectiveness of Amaranth in weight and calorie loss
- Cholesterol is a fatty substance in our bodies. Too much cholesterol in the body may lead to the narrowing of the arteries.
- In several animal studies, Amaranth showed cholesterol lowering in the body
However, additional research is required to find the effect of Amaranth on cholesterol levels in humans.
Some other benefits of Amaranth are as follows
Improves digestive health
- Amaranth improves the digestion
- It prevents constipation
Improves the heart health
- Potassium in Amaranth lowers the blood cholesterol
- It lowers the blood pressure
- It reduces the risk of heart diseases
- Amaranth contains iron and thus helps maintain the iron level in the body and prevent anemia
Improves bone and teeth health
- Amaranth contains calcium and vitamin K
- It helps maintain healthy bones and teeth
Maintains healthy skin
- Amaranth oil soothes the skin
- It prevents skin irritation and keeps the skin hydrated
Dosage of Amaranth
- The dosage of Amaranth depends on the person’s age and medical condition. To date, there needs to be more information on the dosage range for Amaranth.
- One must follow the directions as mentioned on the product label
- Persons with a medical condition must talk to a healthcare professional before using Amaranth to get the correct dose.
Side effects of Amaranth
Amaranth has no known toxicity to date. Amaranth’s seed, oil, and leaves are generally safe when used as food.
However, some people might experience common side effects such as:
- Stomach pain
- Skin rash
Precautions related to Amaranth
- Children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers should refrain from using Amaranth due to a lack of information on the safety and efficiency of these groups
- To date, there is lack of available information on the interaction of Amaranth with other drugs.
How to eat Amaranth raw or cooked?
- Amaranth must never be consumed in raw form. Amaranth contains anti-nutrients such as phytates and oxalates that might bind to minerals and vitamins, thus decreasing their bioavailability.
How to prepare Amaranth?
- Cooking Amaranth is very simple and easy.
- Before cooking, one must soak Amaranth in water for one to three days or until sprouting occurs. Sprouting of grains is helpful in two ways-
- Sprouting helps in grain’s easy digestion in our body
- It also removes any harmful substances that hamper mineral absorption
Easy tips to include Amaranth in the diet
- One can use it in dishes instead of rice and paste
- Add in stews and soup to increase the thickness
- Take it as a breakfast cereal with nuts and fru
- Add it to smoothies to enhance the protein and fiber content
- One can also pop the amaranth seeds as popcorn and have them as snacks
Storage of Amaranth
- One can keep amaranth leaves in the freeze in a plastic bag
- Consume it within seven days to get the best benefit
- Avoid washing them until ready to cook
- One must keep the seeds of Amaranth in an airtight package to avoid microbial contamination.
- Amaranth is a healthy gluten-free grain with abundant proteins and fibers
- It has several health benefits, such as weight loss and reduced cholesterol levels in the body
- Amaranth is easy to prepare, and one can also consume it as snacks
- One must always consult a physician before consuming Amaranth as a medicine