Though a lot of people around the world consider it to be a weed, it has been a dietary staple food for Maya, Inca and Aztec civilizations in Central America for over 8,000 years, where 60 different species of these grains have been regularly cultivated.
Amaranth is called a pseudo-cereal in scientific circles, for it is technically not a cereal grain like wheat or oats, despite having a comparable set of nutrients. It is also eaten like a cereal and has an earthy, nutty flavour. It is naturally gluten free and rich in protein, fiber, micro-nutrients and antioxidants.
Proteins found in amaranth are of a very high quality, which helps in building muscle mass, supporting neurological functions, helps in digestion and to balance hormones naturally - making the person who eats amaranth regularly healthier. It also prevents weight gain as it makes one feel full faster and increases metabolism.
Amaranth reduces inflammation especially when we are hit by dietary and environmental toxins which more often than not result in celiac and irritable bowel syndrome. Amaranth also relieves pain induced by arthritis and gout by reducing its symptoms.
Amaranth is rich in calcium which helps in bone repair and strengthening.
Amaranth has been found to lower LDL or bad cholesterol by 21-50 percent. The fibre in amaranth acts on the bile that is made from cholesterol and pulls it out by increasing faecal excretion.
Amaranth’s high fibre content also aids the digestive system by removing toxins, waste, fat and cholesterol from the gut along with the insoluble fibre. It also prevents other health conditions like leaky gut syndrome which may lead to fatigue, bloating, weight gain, headaches, skin and thyroid problems.
Amaranth has sufficient quantity of manganese to prevent diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels. The digestive enzymes need manganese to balance sugar within the bloodstream.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat to which some people react adversely in the form of digestive disorder, fatigue, bone and joint pain, arthritis, infertility, miscarriage, depression, skin rashes and many more like these. Amaranth is gluten free and therefore, the people who are sensitive or intolerant to gluten can substitute it for adequate nutrition.
Sufficient intake of folate rich food is very important for pregnant women so that the baby develops normally and without any malformations. Amaranth is rich in folate which helps the body make new cells and replicate DNA.
Amaranth helps in losing weight. The fiber in it regulates the digestive system and reduces inflammations. The calcium in it strengthens the bones which encourages physical activity. Its protein increases endurance and keeps you feeling full for a longer period. Amaranth is also high in lysine which converts fatty acids into energy and lowers cholesterol.
The peptide found in Amaranth reduces inflammation and prevents the activity of free radicals that can cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells.
Amaranth has enough potassium which dilates the blood vessels and reduces the strain on the cardio-vascular system thereby lowering blood pressure and chances of developing atherosclerosis.
Amaranth contains lots of flavonoids including rutin which eliminate varicose veins by strengthening the capillary walls. Vitamin C in it helps producing collagen which repairs and strengthens blood vessel walls.
Amaranth leaves have antioxidants like carotenoids and Vitamin A which prevents macular degeneration and development of cataracts thereby improving vision.
Amaranth is a highly nutritious, gluten free grain which also has a lot of fiber, protein and micro-nutrients. All of these characteristics provide the health benefits that have been mentioned. It is easy to prepare - it just needs to be soaked in water for a couple of days before adding it to a variety of dishes. It can be eaten as a leaf, cereal grain or grain flour. It can also be popped like popcorn and eaten as a healthy snack, or mixed with coconut syrup or honey. It also prevents premature greying of hair due to its minerals. It is no doubt a wonderful cereal, the benefits of which the world is now waking up to.
Nutritionist and Wellness Coach
Founder of Nutri Activania
M.Sc Food and Nutrition
Certified Diabetes Educator from Project Hope & International Diabetes Federation