Origin and History of Amaranth
Amaranth is one of the most nutritious plants on earth, and one that more people need to learn about. It is a tall pant with light brown seeds and leaves of a dark green color, often with purple veins.
Both its leaves and seeds are used as food. Its name is derived from the Greek word, Amarantos. Translated, Amarantos means never withering or never fading. The plant lives up to its name because it does not lose its brilliant color even after drying.
It is a truly ancient plant, having been grown by the mighty Aztecs as far back as about 6ooo years ago. This age-old civilization regarded the plant with great reverence. It had great religious significance to them, and thrived well in the kingdom’s heyday. It was in fact a staple food for the Aztecs.
It was not until Spain conquered the Aztecs that the plant waned in popularity. The Spaniards banned its growth, use and possession of the plant in a bid to enforce Christianity upon these natives of Central America. For an incredibly long period of time, the plant seemed to have vanished off the face of the earth.
It was not until the 1970’s that this nutrient-laden plant found its way into the United States. Since then, it has been a journey of awe-inspiring discovery of just how useful this plant is and the countless health benefits it holds for those who use it.
Nutritional Benefits of Amaranth
1. High Protein Content
If there is one thing that the amaranth is famous for, it is its high protein content. It is in fact dubbed a complete protein because it contains lysine, which is a rather rare amino acid that is lacking in many sources of protein.
The amaranth grains are heavily packed with proteins, and eating a mere 150 grams of the seeds will provide you with sufficient protein for a day. Even better is the fact that the leaves of this plant contain plenty of proteins. This is not something that can be said of many other types of green leafy vegetables, which is why this plants stands out as one of the most nutritious plants.
Proteins are essential in the body. They help in growth, which is why they are referred to as body-building foods. They also help in the healing of wounds, among many other functions. It is therefore absolutely necessary to consume the required amount of proteins every day, and one great source of proteins is this plant.
2. Aids in Digestion
Amaranth has high fiber content. This fiber helps in the uptake of minerals in the body, thus aiding greatly in the digestion process. The fiber also helps to fight constipation and other digestion problems. Amaranth is gluten-free, which makes it an ideal source of fiber and other nutrients obtained from grains for people suffering from Celiac’s disease or other forms of gluten intolerance.
Additionally, the plant can be of great help for those who are trying to lose weight by dieting. How, you ask? For one thing, its high protein concentration means that your appetite will be sated for hours at a time.
Additionally, the fiber will leave you feeling fuller for longer, thus reducing your craving for snacks. It is therefore an ideal food for those who are trying to diet and just can’t seem to be able to stick to the diet.
3. Rich in Calcium
Another health benefit of amaranth is that is contains plenty of calcium. As such, it helps to strengthen bones and teeth. It also helps keep bone diseases such as osteoporosis at bay while preventing demineralization of bones.
4. Heart Health
Amaranth also has plenty of benefits for your heart and circulatory system in general. For one thing, it helps to lower the levels of bad cholesterol in your heart, thus preventing countless heart diseases. Additionally, it contains plenty of potassium, which helps lower high blood pressure a great deal. This mineral lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, thus allowing blood to flow freely through them at the right pressure.
Amaranth is also a powerful antioxidant. As such, it helps reduce inflammation and lowers the pangs of inflammatory diseases such as gout and arthritis. Being such a strong antioxidant, it also lowers the risk of getting cancer by hindering the activity of free radicals that cause cancer.
Amaranth is also extremely beneficial to your eyesight. It contains important carotenoids and vitamin A that boost your eye health a great deal. It also reduces stress in the ocular system, thus preventing a number of eye diseases.
7. Prevents birth defects
The plant also contains a lot of Folate, which is an essential nutrient during pregnancy. This nutrient helps prevent a huge number of birth deformities, thus ensuring that your baby develops in the correct way.
Risks and Side Effects of Using Amaranth
Most people do not experience any side effects after using amaranth. However, there are some who are allergic to the plant, and this can lead to unpleasant reactions. Often, these allergic reactions are not severe. Nevertheless, ensure that you consult your healthcare provider for guidance before you add amaranth to your diet. Additionally, the plant is not good for those who suffer from gallstones, as it can worsen these conditions.
How to Use Amaranth Benefits
Amaranth can be used in a variety of ways. You could boil the seeds as a breakfast cereal or even add it to your ordinary soups. You could also pop the grains in a hot skillet or cook it with other staples such as brown rice in order to increase the nutritional content of your meals. You can also cook the leaves like you do with other vegetables.
Amaranth Benefits Conclusion
Amaranth is a priceless treasure as far as nutrition is concerned. Amaranth contains countless benefits and is laden with so many precious nutrients. It also helps battle and even prevents certain diseases. You really should give this plant a chance in order to enjoy all the benefits it holds for you.