Amaranth: Properties and Benefits of the Vegetable Food

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Amaranth is grown in the inter-Andean valleys, from southern Ecuador to northern Argentina, at altitudes ranging from 100 to 3,000 meters above sea level.

What is so special about the amaranth grain? Well, it is considered a superfood, so much so that the UN has considered it to be the best food of vegetable origin for humans, due to its high protein content

Precisely, amaranth was one of the foods that NASA selected for the astronauts’ diet due to its high nutritional value

Moreover, since 1985, it has been cultivated in space travel, thanks to its short growth cycle, as well as its ability to grow in adverse conditions, to remove atmospheric carbon dioxide and to produce food, oxygen and water.

Undoubtedly, this prodigy of nature deserves to be studied, as will be done in this article.

what is amaranth?

  • Scientific name: Amaranthus
  • Family: Amaranthaceae
  • Order: Caryophyllales
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Tribe: Amarantheae

Amaranth, which means plant that does not wither, is a type of grass, of the Amaranthaceae family, that grows in temperate and tropical zones, in cold and dry climates, in poor and humid soils

It is a pseudocereal that does not belong to the group of grasses, although it is used as a cereal because of its high starch content, which gives it great energetic power.

In the panicle of amaranth, loaded with numerous little flowers, the seeds that are used in the elaboration of cereals and flours are housed. The stem, leaves and even the flower can also be consumed in infusions.

Properties of amaranth

  • It concentrates between 16 and 17% of the proteins that have almost all the essential amino acids for the organism.
  • It contains natural vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and vitamin B3.
  • It has a lot of folic acid.
  • It has a high proportion of fiber.
  • It has minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
  • It is a good source of phenolic compounds with antioxidant power
  • It contains almost twice as much calcium as milk.
  • It is heart-healthy.

Benefits of amaranth

The properties mentioned above indicate that amaranth is an excellent food that can be incorporated into the diet to diversify it

Some of its many health benefits are listed below.

Very healthy for women

Amaranth is a good companion for women at different stages of their lives. Due to its high calcium content, it is a beneficial food for women who have osteoporosis problems or are in menopause and face decalcification processes.

In another sense, as it is a source of iron, it allows the female body to recover from the blood loss caused by menstruation.

And in pregnancy and lactation, where an extra supply of iron is required, amaranth can be that natural supplement that is needed at times when drugs cannot be used.

It serves to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases

Since its leaves and grains are rich in calcium, fiber and potassium, it has proven effective in the natural treatment of hypertension.

Thanks to its slow absorption carbohydrate content, its fat rich in oleic and linoleic acids and squalene, with antioxidant properties, amaranth becomes a heart-healthy food.

It has anticarcinogenic substances

The antioxidants in amaranth have demonstrated their power to neutralize oxygen free radicals. Thus, its intake can reduce oxidative stress and, in this way, contribute to the maintenance of the body’s cells.

On the other hand, amaranth has several compounds that are currently the subject of scientific studies and are considered to have the potential to counteract cancer cells, such as:

  • Squalene. It is an organic acid with antioxidant activity and anticarcinogenic effects. The best known source of this compound is shark oil, but this only contains 1% of this substance, while amaranth has a percentage of more than 8%.
  • Betasitosterol. It is a plant sterol with anticarcinogenic virtues.

Combats stress

Amaranth is a food that generates tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is not produced naturally by the human body and is essential for the production of serotonin, the happiness hormone.

Its high tryptophan content makes its consumption recommended for people suffering from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and autism.

Taking amaranth is a good measure to cope with a very stressful rhythm of life, it also helps women to mitigate mood swings due to hormonal imbalances.

How to use amaranth?

Amaranth can be consumed in different ways. In general, the grain is used to be prepared in soups, salads, flour for breading, creams and sauces. It is also used to make beverages, cereal bars, granolas, breads, tortillas and desserts.

The leaves can be consumed in the same way as other vegetables, in salads or added to other foods as an accompaniment.

The cosmetics industry has found a way to take advantage of the properties of this plant to make oils and colorants, since it strengthens hair and makes an important contribution to the good health of the skin, thanks to its vitamin E content.

Advantages and disadvantages of amaranth

With good reason, this superfood was named by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States as the best food in the world for human consumption.

Now we will learn more about its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of amaranth

  • Contains 8 of the 9 essential amino acids.
  • Helps prevent colon cancer.
  • Helps control gastrointestinal diseases.
  • Helps in the treatment of diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, constipation, renal failure and celiac disease.
  • Helps prevent all heart diseases.
  • It is recommended for pregnant and lactating women.

Disadvantages of amaranth

  • People with lysinuric protein intolerance may suffer from diarrhea if they eat amaranth.
  • People with hypoglycemia problems cannot consume a lot of amaranths, because it has the ability to reduce insulin levels.

In the pre-Hispanic cultures of America, amaranth was used in religious rituals offered to the gods, but in today’s world its medicinal properties have been taken advantage of, so much so that it can be said that to live on earth as well as to go to heaven, amaranth is a superfood!

German Fuertes Otero
German Fuertes Otero
CEO at M.D. from Stanford Medicine: Stanford, California, US, M.Sc. from University of Cambridge: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK and University of Oxford: Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK. PhD at Harvard University Harvard Catalyst: Cambridge, MA, US.

Aunque pueda contener afirmaciones, datos o apuntes procedentes de instituciones o profesionales sanitarios y la información contenida en PharmaSalud esté redactada por profesionales en medicina, recomendamos al lector que cualquier duda relacionada con la salud sea consultada con un profesional del ámbito sanitario.

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