AMARANTH SEEDS – Nutritional Profile
Both the seeds and leaves of the Amaranth plant are edible but it is the seed that is of particular nutritional interest. A single cup of amaranth provides 26g of protein, 13g of fibre as well as 31% of the recommended daily allowances of calcium, 82% of iron and 14% of Vitamin C. Of significance is the lack of gluten (this is a seed rather than a grain) and has plentiful levels of Vitamin E.
A single cup contains 729 calories and is also a good source of Iron, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese. A 100g serving will provide 66g or 22% of recommended daily allowance of carbohydrates and is high in B group vitamins such as Thiamin (5% of RDA), Niacin (5% of RDA) and folate (12% of RDA).
AMARANTH SEEDS – Health Benefits
The proteins found in Amaranth are unusually well balanced. All amino acid types are found which makes them particularly beneficial for vegans. They also have a large amount of lysine which is an amino acid essential for tissue re-growth.
The level of magnesium in Amaranth means that it is especially valuable to migraine sufferers as an increased intake of magnesium has been shown to limit the dilation of blood vessels that cause migraines. The levels of the B group vitamin riboflavin have also been shown to benefit migraine sufferers.
Magnesium, present in Amaranth, acts as a relaxant for blood vessels and will lead to lower blood pressure and less ischemic heart disease. The oil present in the seeds also have a beneficial impact on hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Significant benefits for post-menopausal women have also been demonstrated. Cardiovascular studies have shown how whole grains (such as amaranth) slowed progression of arteriosclerosis by limiting the build-up of plaque resulting in less narrowing of the arteries.
Minerals such as manganese provide good antioxidant protection and help ensure that cell mitochondria damage is kept to a minimum during the energy production process.
Fibre found in whole grains such as amaranth offers significant levels of protection against breast cancer and studies have shown that risk can be reduced by as much as 30% by consuming 6g per day.
Children suffering from asthma can also benefit from a diet rich in amaranth demonstrated a significant reduction in wheezing when children were seen to have a 54% reduction in the symptom.
A single cup of amaranth has a high calorie count of 729 which makes them particularly useful in weight gain diets.
Being a seed and having no gluten at all amaranth is a particularly valuable food source for coeliacs.
Eating foods such as amaranth that are high in fibre has also been shown to inhibit the development of gallstones. A study of 70,000 women, observed over 16 years showed an 18% decrease in the likelihood of developing gallstones for those women eating the most fibre when compared to those women eating the least.
AMARANTH SEEDS – Product History
Amaranth is often considered as grain but this is technically incorrect. They are seeds and it would be more accurate to call them a pseudo-grain as they have no gluten thus making it a good alternative for coeliac.
Cultivation of amaranth was widespread across central Mexico and was a staple for ancient civilisations of the region but today it is a minor crop even in those areas. Academics looking at world food supply problems of the future have discussed the potential of amaranth as a new staple food crop because it is easily harvested; it tolerates arid regions which will be a benefit as global warming develops. Its seeds are also a good source of protein and amino acids.
Following this research the seed was established as a commercial crop with the original seed stock sourced from the wild. Currently not that well known but amaranth is beginning to be sold under names such as buckwheat and quinoa.