What is Amaranth:
The word amaranth means ‘everlasting’ in Greek. Amaranth was cultivated by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago and they considered it to be the source of their supernatural powers and endurance. It has been an important food source for ancient civilizations in South America and Mexico and is seeing a resurgence today as a highly nutritious gluten-free grain. It is still a native crop in Peru but it’s grown more in Africa, India, China, Russia, throughout South America and reintroduced once again in North America.
It is a moderately tall, broad-leafed, bushy type of plant that grows about six feet in height and produces a brightly colored flowery head which contains a very large number of seeds (as many as 60,000 seeds). It is a member of the Chenopodiaceae family of plants and a relative of the Beets, Swiss chard, Spinach, and Quinoa. Hence, the nutritional characteristics are more similar to the dark green leafy vegetables than grain foods. Like, Quinoa and Millet;
Amaranth can be simmered like other grains and has a porridge-like texture. It can be combined with other grains if you desire a more “rice-like” dish. It can also be popped in a skillet like popcorn, which gives it a nutty flavor and crunchy texture.
The Amazing Nutritional Benefits of Amaranth:
. Protein Intense:
Amaranth contains more protein than any other grain. One cup of raw amaranth contains 28.1 grams of protein. Oats come a close second with 26.3 grams of protein. In comparison, 1 cup of raw white rice contains only 13.1 grams of protein.
. Great source of Lysine:
Lysine is an important amino acid. Conventional grains are notorious for low lysine content, which decreases the quality of their protein. Amaranth is relatively rich in this amino acid, containing approximately twice as much lysine as wheat on an ounce-for-ounce basis. Scientists consider the protein content of amaranth of high ‘biological value’, similar to the protein
. Easily Digestible:
Amaranth contains primary proteins called albumin and globulins, which, in comparison with the prolamins in wheat, are more soluble and digestible. The amount, types and digestibility of proteins in amaranth make it an excellent plant source of high quality proteins.
. Rich source Magnesium and Iron:
Amaranth is much more like Swiss chard than wheat. It contains twice as much Iron and magnesium than wheat. 1 cup of raw amaranth contains 519 milligrams of magnesium, followed by buckwheat with 393 milligrams and sorghum with 365 milligrams. In comparison, an equal amount of white rice contains 46 milligrams of magnesium.
1 cup of raw amaranth contains 15 milligrams of iron. Teff is a close second with 14.7 milligrams of iron. In comparison, white rice contains 1.5 milligrams of iron.
. Calcium Dense:
Amaranth is second only to teff in calcium content. 1 cup of raw teff contains 347 milligrams of calcium, amaranth 298 milligrams. In comparison, 1 cup of white rice
. Contains High Fiber Content
Amaranth contains more fiber than other gluten-free grains. 1 cup of raw amaranth contains 18 grams of fiber- buckwheat and millet contain 17 grams. In comparison, white rice contains 2.4 grams of fiber.
. Contains Low Carb
Amaranth is slightly lower in carbohydrate content compared to other gluten-free grains. 1 cup of raw amaranth contains 129 grams of carbohyrates, white rice 148 grams, brown rice and sorghum 143 grams and teff 141 grams of carbohyrdates. Oats contain 103 grams of carbohyrates, making them the lowest carb gluten free grain.
. Contains Good Fats
Amaranth is a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids and it contains vitamin E in similar amounts to olive oil. Amaranth contains 6 to 10% oil, predominantly unsaturated, or around 77% unsaturated fatty acids including linoleic acid required for optimum nutrition.
. Contains Vitamin C
Amaranth is the only grain with documented vitamin C content.
. High levels of Beta-Carotene and Lutein