Amaranth or amaranthus caudatus is considered a weed by much of the world, but it has been grown as a grain-like seed and vegetable for thousands of years. The Aztecs used it as a staple and even included it in their religious rituals. It has about the same yield as many other commonly used grains like rice and a similar nutritional value to quinoa, which makes it a plant well worth looking into.
13 Reasons Why You Should Include Amaranth in Your Diet
1. Gluten-Free Flour Option
Amaranth isn’t really a grain, and it does not have the sometimes troublesome proteins you find in wheat, rye, and barley. This makes it the perfect ingredient for various gluten-free recipes.
Amaranth flour can be used as a gluten-free flour option to thicken soups and stews, sauces, and more. It can also be used with other gluten-free flours and gums in baking.
2. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
The oils and phytosterols in amaranth help lower cholesterol levels, including LDL and triglycerides.
3. Fights Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory properties of peptides and oils in amaranth can ease pain and reduce inflammation. This is especially important for chronic conditions where inflammation erodes your health, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
You can also use amaranth oil for minor injuries and specific skin conditions. For example, if you trip and sprain your ankle, you can use it to reduce the risk of inflammation.
4. Reduces Risk of Developing Cancer
The same peptides in amaranth that protect against inflammation may also help prevent cancer, a study shows. The antioxidants in amaranth grain may even help protect cells from damage that can lead to cancer.
5. Normalizes Blood Pressure Levels
The fiber and phytonutrients in amaranth can lower blood pressure, according to some recent studies. This seed tackles cholesterol, inflammation, and blood pressure, making it an all-around good food for heart health.
6. Good Source of Protein
Amaranth is a very rich source of protein and essential amino acids. In fact, just one cup of amaranth already contain about 10 grams of protein.
Also, this protein is highly bioavailable, which means the protein in amaranth is more digestible than other seeds and grains and has been compared to the digestibility of milk protein.
7. Has Potent Lysine Properties
Vegetables and grains are often lacking in this essential amino acid. Luckily, amaranth has a good amount of lysine which helps the body absorb calcium, build muscle, and produce energy.
8. Fiber Helps with Digestion
Insufficient fiber consumption could lead to constipation, bloating, and even increased fat storage. Adding foods that are high-fiber like amaranth are a great option. Amaranth is a high fiber food. This makes it filling and helps aid digestive health, cholesterol, blood pressure, and slows the absorption of sugars to let the body keep up with energy production.
Insufficient fiber consumption could lead to constipation, bloating, and even increased fat storage. Adding foods that are high-fiber like amaranth are a great option.
Using amaranth as part of a healthy breakfast can help increase energy and better digestive functions.
9. Minerals for Overall Health
Amaranth is a very rich source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and copper. It is also a good source of zinc, potassium, and phosphorus.
These build strong bones and muscles, aid hydration, boost energy, and are vital in thousands of processes throughout the body.
Tip: Having a hard time sourcing enough vitamins and minerals from your food? Then supplement with Sunwarrior’s Vitamin Mineral Rush! It’s a fast-absorbing multivitamin that comes entirely from raw plant sources and contains no synthetics. These natural ingredients come loaded with phytonutrients, like fulvic acid, that deliver our plant-based vitamin mineral complex for increased absorbability, rushing nutrition to the cells where it’s needed.
10. Brimming with Vitamins
Amaranth is also a good source of many essential vitamins, too, including vitamins A, C, E, K, B5, B6, folate, niacin, and riboflavin. These act as antioxidants, raise energy levels, control hormones, and do much more.
11. Boosts Immune System
Amaranth may boost immune function according to some studies, probably thanks to the potent vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
12. Darkens Gray Hair
Amaranth helps prevent premature graying, mainly due to the minerals this seed has in abundance.
Amaranth, like most seeds, nuts, and grains, does contain some phytic acid, a phosphorus storage molecule that can bind to many minerals and keep us from digesting and using these vital nutrients.
It is always better to soak, ferment, or sprout seeds and grains before cooking them to neutralize most of the phytic acid. The amaranth plant has a modest amount of oxalic acid, which should be avoided or only moderately used by those with more serious conditions such as gout, kidney problems, or rheumatoid arthritis.
13. Snack Bonus
Amaranth flowers are versatile leafy vegetables that you can even turn into a delicious snack with a nutty flavor! You can pop amaranth, like popcorn, and use it as a healthy snack or as a treat by mixing it with coconut syrup or honey.
If you want you can also use it to make gluten-free baked goods or amaranth chips. Follow your favorite baking recipes but replace wheat flour with amaranth.
Watch Marzia Prince’s top protein sources in this video from Sunwarrior:
Amaranth is a great but underrated superfood everyone should include in their diets. It has protein, high levels of fiber, and vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy.
Also, it has a delicious, versatile nutty taste you can add to almost any dish, so you won’t have a hard finding delicious recipes that include amaranth like this amaranth pumpkin porridge.
What are your favorite amaranth recipes? Share them with us in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 2, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.