Amaranth, this miraculous seed once fortified the peoples of the advanced Indian civilizations of Central and South America, giving them powers of resistance and extraordinary health. Amaranth was sacred at least to the Aztecs. They made sacrificial offerings which were consumed at religious ceremonies by mixing its flour with honey and blood. Not only did the conquistadores and missionaries regard these rites with suspicion, they were also suspicious of the effect that these tiny seeds had on the constitution of the Indians, something which was clearly almost magical. As a result the cultivation and consumption of amaranth were forbidden. By now there are a large number of wild or cultivated varieties, the health benefits of which are as follow:
Gluten Free – Amaranth flour can be used to thicken soups, sauces, and more. It can also be used with other gluten free flours and gums in baking.
Cholesterol – The oils and phytosterols in amaranth help lower cholesterol levels, including LDL and triglycerides.
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.
Cancer – The same peptides in amaranth that protect against inflammation may also help prevent cancer. The antioxidants in this grain may even help protect cells from other damage that can lead to cancer.
Blood Pressure – The fiber and phytonutrients in amaranth 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.
Protein – Amaranth is a very rich source of protein and this protein is also highly bioavailable. The protein in amaranth is more digestible than other seeds and grains and has been compared to the digestibility of milk protein.
Lysine – Vegetables and grains are often lacking in this essential amino acid. Amaranth has a good amount of lysine which helps the body absorb calcium, build muscle, and produce energy.
Fiber – Amaranth is a high fiber food. This makes it filling and means it aids digestive health, cholesterol, blood pressure, and slows the absorption of sugars to let the body keep up with energy production.
Minerals – 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.
Vitamins – Amaranth is also a good source of many essential vitamins too, including A, C, E, K, B5, B6, folate, niacin, and riboflavin. These act as antioxidants, raise energy levels, control hormones, and do much more.
Next article will be about different recipes where amaranth is the main ingredient…