Amaranth may not be familiar to you, but it’s a true superfood that you’ll want to include in your diet. Even if you’re not entirely sure what amaranth is, there are enough benefits that you’ll want to know all about it.
The term ‘superfood’ gets thrown around a lot, but there are some genuine ones that can truly benefit your health. Amaranth is one such superfood, and this article will get you up to speed with what it is, how to consume it, and the benefits that come from it.
What Is Amaranth?
Amaranth, or amaranthus, is a plant – but it’s cultivated a few different ways. We can use it as a leaf vegetable, a cereal, or as an ornamental plant. Using amaranth goes back to the Aztec era 8000 years ago, and it was an absolute staple of their diet. They estimate that nearly 80% of the calories the Aztecs took in came from amaranth.
The form that you are most likely going to find it in and use it will be in grain form. These “grains” are small buds that make up the flowers of the plant. Amaranth is a small round grain the size of a poppy seed and looks similar to couscous. Even though it looks like a regular grain, it technically isn’t. Amaranth falls into the pseudo-grain category as it has a similar nutrition profile to things like rice, oats, and wheat.
Amaranth is like quinoa, which is also technically not a grain but has a full nutrient profile and all the amino acids. That makes choices like these a good option for vegans looking to get more nutrition and protein. It is also gluten-free so it is a good choice for those with celiac and gluten sensitivity.
Benefits of Amaranth
Amaranth can provide many benefits as it has been doing so for millennia. And since amaranth is so nutritionally dense, it lends itself well to help improve people’s health. Here are five ways consuming amaranth boosts your health and wellness:
1. It Is A Good Choice If You’re On A Budget
Eating well can be expensive and if you can’t afford to buy top of the line organic food, amaranth makes a good choice in a pinch. It is so nutritionally dense, and costs next to nothing, that you can at least be healthy on a budget. One cup of amaranth contains around 700 calories and just 3 grams of sugar. It is full of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and a high amount of minerals.
2. It Can Help Your Digestion
They often say “you are what you eat.” But in reality, “you are what you absorb.” All the nutrition in the world doesn’t do much for you if you don’t properly digest and absorb it.
One big health benefit of amaranth is its ability to help improve your digestion. This is due to it being an amazing source of fiber. One cup of amaranth contains 13 grams of dietary fiber. Just two servings a day should help you hit your recommended daily intake of fiber.
Getting adequate fiber will help to prevent constipation, improve digestion, and makes for easier bowel movements.
3. It Can Help Build Stronger Bones
You wouldn’t think something that appears as a small grain could help strengthen your bones, but this is because of its high calcium content. Just one cup of amaranth contains 307 mg of calcium. This is more calcium than you would find in a cup of skim milk or even whole milk.
Just one cup of amaranth will help provide you with around 1/3rd of the calcium you need daily. This will help in strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis.
4. It’s Great During Pregnancy
This is one of the surprising amaranth benefits. Amaranth is like a multi-vitamin because it provides a great number of nutrients to help prenatal babies develop properly. This is mainly due to its high levels of b vitamin complexes, especially folate.
Folate is critical for red blood cell formation and neural formation in prenatal babies. A folic acid deficiency during pregnancy can lead to underweight infants along with other issues.
5. It Helps Improve The Oxygen Levels In Your Body
Another benefit you may not expect is that amaranth can help your body have more oxygen in it. We need copper and iron to produce new blood cells, and it’s tough to get these from the diet. One cup of amaranth contains 82% of the RDA for iron and 52% for copper. These are amazingly high levels and the iron content can help to combat iron deficiencies that lead to anemia.
How Do You Use Amaranth?
The benefits of amaranth are many, and being easy to cook is one such benefit. Amaranth cooks are similar to pasta or rice. The one difference is that it takes quite a bit more water for it to cook properly.
You will want 6 cups of water to 1 cup of amaranth. From there, it’s just like making pasta: boil the water, add the grains, and cook for around 15 minutes. You then will drain the water and rinse the amaranth before serving it.
Keep in mind that amaranth is very dense and works well when mixed with other grains. The other grains will help to lighten up the texture so that it doesn’t feel as dense or heavy. Amaranth is so dense that it can actually be used as a thickener in things like soups, stews, and sauces.
You can use amaranth to make salads, amaranth porridge, and even pop in to make a snack. It makes a great substitution any time you would use pasta, rice, or couscous.
Amaranth is a tiny little thing that provides some tremendous benefits. It makes for a great addition to the diet because it is cheap, easy to prepare, and a nutrient powerhouse. It is easy to classify it as a superfood, as there are so many health benefits that come from it.
You can find amaranth at any health food shop, or even in bulk food stores, so you can start enjoying its benefits right away.
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