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Amaranth is the general name for more than 60 different species of Amaranthus. Cultivated as a grain for 8,000 years, amaranth is classified as a pseudocereal grown for its edible starchy seeds. However, it is not in the same grain family as wheat and rice.
Top Benefits of Amaranth
Here are five reasons to eat this beneficial grain:
1. A Rich Source of Protein
Amaranth is exceptionally high in protein, providing nine grams per cup of cooked grain. Every single cell in the body needs protein. It is critical for building and strengthening muscle mass, supporting neurological function, aiding digestion, balancing hormones, and keeping a positive mood.
Since amaranth is gluten-free, it is an excellent alternative to people with wheat allergies or intolerances. Gluten sensitivity occurs when the body reacts to the protein found in the wheat plant (gluten). The more severe form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease, which leads to difficulty in digesting food. Gluten can also provoke other less severe symptoms, including bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headaches, fatigue, skin problems, joint aches, leg or arm numbness, and even poor memory.
3. Reduces Inflammation
This pseudocereal can reduce inflammation, which is associated with nearly all health conditions. When the body experiences a buildup of dietary and environmental toxins, the immune system becomes overactive and activates defense cells and hormones that damage tissues.
4. Aids the Digestive System
Amaranth’s high fiber content helps in stimulating the digestive system to regulate the discharge of bodily waste. Due to fiber’s structure and the body’s incapacity to absorb it, fiber can pass through the digestive system without being absorbed by the stomach’s digestive enzymes. As a result, fiber carries waste, toxins, fat, and cholesterol particles out of the gut.
5. Lowers Cholesterol
A study published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research examined the impact of amaranth on the cholesterol levels of animals models. Results showed that consuming amaranth decreased low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) by 21 to 50%.
Where to Find Amaranth Grain
Amaranth is available for purchase in many health food stores. Since it is gaining popularity, it is sometimes available in major supermarkets, too.
How to Use Amaranth Grain
Amaranth grain has a toasted, nutty flavor that works well with many dishes. Here are a few ways to incorporate amaranth into everyday meals:
- Serve amaranth instead of white rice and pasta.
- Combine amaranth with fruit and nuts instead of using oats.
- Use amaranth as flour to make gluten-free bread or pastries.
- Blend amaranth with fruit and veggie smoothies to add a nutty flavor.
- Add amaranth to soups or chilis to create a thicker texture.
- Make “rice cakes” by combining amaranth and honey.
When cooking amaranth grain, remember to use the ratio of 1/2 cup amaranth to 1 1/2 cups water. Heat the mixture in a saucepan until it boils. Then, reduce the heat and allow to simmer uncovered until the water is absorbed. This usually takes approximately 20 minutes. It is also more convenient to use a rice cooker instead.