The history of Amaranth dates back 8,000 years to the Aztecs and the Yucatan Peninsula and to is still being eaten today. In Peru, it is a native crop and found in Africa, China, Russia and throughout South America. Amaranth in recent years has started to emerge again in North America. Amaranth is gluten-free and is considered a grain. Some nutritionists consider Amaranth a “pseudo-cereal” because it is not technically a grain like oats or wheat.
Health Benefits of Amaranth
Amaranth contains protein
Amaranth has a high protein content. Amaranth has roughly 26 grams of protein per cup which makes it much higher than most other grains. If you were to compare long grain white rice to amaranth, the rice only contains half of the protein of amaranth. Plus, it contains lysine. which is an essential amino acid The body does not make lysine therefore it must come from food or supplements.. Amino acids like lysine are the building blocks of protein. Lysine is important for proper growth, and it plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping lower cholesterol.
Amaranth is Heart Healthy
Research has found that amaranth can be beneficial is reducing bad cholesterol levels. One study found that the oil found in amaranth may lower total and LDL cholesterol. The study was done on chickens but more research is being conducted on other test subjects. A study performed in Guelph Canada found that amaranth contains phytosterols which are known to have cholesterol lowering properties. Phytosterols are sterols found in plants. Phytosterols and cholesterol are quite similar in structure so much that they are absorbed through the same mechanisms Research suggests that .when your diet is high in phytosterols, you absorb less cholesterol.
Amaranth is good for digestive health
Amaranth has long been known as a great way to keep your bowels moving well. Nutritionists have found that 1 uncooked cup of amaranth contains nearly 13 grams of dietary fiber. A cup of uncooked long-grain white rice only contains 2 grams of fiber. Fiber includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs fiber isn’t digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body. Researchers know that fiber helps to normalize bowel movements, maintain bowel health, help to lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar levels and may help in keeping a healthy weight.
Amaranth is a vitamin powerhouse.
Studies have found that amaranth is the only grain to have a vitamin C content. The grain contains 105% of the daily value per serving of manganese. Manganese is important for bone production and bone health. Manganese also helps to control blood sugar levels, skin health and protection against free radical damage. Amaranth contains a large supply of calcium which is a mineral known for helping the muscles to work properly and forms the structure of bones and teeth. Amaranth contains high levels of magnesium which is an enzyme known for protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation If you are adding more potassium to your diet, add amaranth as well. Low potassium has been found through many studies to be associated with the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, infertility and high blood pressure as well as others.
Because amaranth contains a rather high amount of oxalic acid, it should be eaten in moderation by those with gout, kidney disorders or rheumatoid arthritis. Many nutritionists suggest not reheating amaranth because the nitrates in the leaves can be converted to nitrites.