Forget Quinoa and Kale, enter Amaranth - Six Fantastic Uses For This Super-food
Categories: Health & Nutrition
As so many good things seem to, amaranth also comes in alcoholic form. I have been interested in amaranth and home brewing for years, so it was only a matter of time before I put these two together. Amaranth as the primary grain in a brew seemed like a fabulous idea. Thanks to RyanBrews, I tracked down a recipe for an Amaranth Belgian Table Ale. The verdict? Delicious! As with most homebrews, its flavor greatly improved after several weeks, a product of aging in the bottle. I highly recommend homebrewers of all levels, even aspiring, to give this beer a try. Alternatively for the more ambitious, brewing a gluten-free, all-amaranth beer might be a valuable venture.
5. Pay homage to a classic character
The resemblance between a mature amaranth flower and Sideshow Bob of the Simpsons is uncanny. Next Halloween, consider carving a Sideshow Bob Jack O’Lantern, topped off with your autumn amaranth harvest. Each of the amaranth’s dreads contain dozens of seeds, which keeps the plant coming back to your garden year after year.
6. Finally, Food
Wild varieties of amaranth appear during the summer months in temperate climates and are often viewed as weeds. Cultivated amaranth maintains its wild hardiness, which allows for easy propagation and care of the plant. This should encourage those who fear their thumb is far from green. Red leaf amaranth can be grown as a salad green in traditional garden beds. The leaves are nutritionally and culinarily equivalent to those of spinach, a relative of amaranth. Space-saving gardeners can plant beans, sweet peas, or other vining vegetables at the base of the quickly growing and sturdy amaranth stalk. With its edible seeds, leaves, and roots, amaranth is a popular ingredient for cultures around the world. Stay tuned for our food-focused follow-up that explores amaranth recipes and the plant’s place in the palate.
Somewhat of an unknown quantity to many, amaranth is tall - often six feet – with broad green leaves, bright red or gold flowers, and around 60 different species. The flowers are made up of miniscule, grain-like buds, one reason why this plant often falls into the "grain" category. But amaranth isn't technically a grain like oats, wheat, or rice. It's sometimes referred to as a "pseudo-cereal" because its nutritional profile is very similar.
One of the most important aspects of this tiny grain is that it's gluten-free. When ground, the flour is generally a pale ivory shade, although the red "buds" can be ground as well for a red-tinged and very healthful grain.
Being extremely dense, amaranth is too heavy to be used by itself. It's best used with other grains for a lighter texture, and with a proven combination of ingredients like guar gum to impersonate gluten.
Cooking amaranth is comparable to cooking pasta or rice: boil plenty of water (six cups of water per one cup of amaranth), measure the grain into it, cook and stir for 15 to 20 minutes, drain, rinse, and eat.
Amaranth can be used as an exceptional thickener for sauces, soups, stews, and even jellies. Eaten as a snack, amaranth can have a light, nutty, or peppery-crunchy texture and flavor. Best of all, amaranth is even more nutritious than its true-grain counterparts.
Health Benefits of Amaranth
One reason amaranth is emerging into the forefront among grains is because of its remarkable nutrition. It's higher in minerals, such as calcium, iron, phosphorous, and carotenoids, than most vegetables. It has truly remarkable protein content: cup for cup, 28.1 grams of protein compared to the 26.3 grams in oats and 13.1 grams in rice.
Amaranth is a great source of lysine, an important amino acid with protein content comparable to that of milk, more easily digested; neither can be said of other grains. To support this positive aspect of amaranth, it also contains primary proteins called albumin and globulins, which, in comparison with the prolamins in wheat, are more soluble and digestible.
One cup of raw amaranth contains 15 milligrams of iron, while white rice contains only 1.5 milligrams. One cup of raw amaranth also contains 18 milligrams of fiber; in comparison, white rice contains 2.4 grams.
At 105% of the daily value per serving, the manganese in amaranth is off the charts, yet it contains fewer carbohydrates. Amaranth contains more than three times the amount of calcium and it's also high in magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Amaranth contains 6 to 10% oil, predominantly unsaturated, or around 77% unsaturated fatty acids, including linoleic acid, required for optimum nutrition. Not least in this list, amaranth is the only grain with documented vitamin C content.
Amaranth Nutrition FactsServing Size: One (1) cup of amaranth (about 246 grams)
Amt. Per Serving
Studies on Amaranth
A study on amaranth reported that its seeds contain not only important nutritional properties, but also phytochemical compounds like rutin and nicotiflorin, and peptides with the ability to help lower hypertension and incidences of cancer.
Researchers suggested further investigation on the function of health-beneficial peptides in amaranth, particularly lunasin, which was previously identified in soybeans and thought to have cancer-preventing benefits, as well as lowering incidences of chronic diseases, such as inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.1
As cardiovascular disease (CVD) is linked to high blood cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), hypertension, obesity, and diabetes, scientists reported that reducing saturated fat while increasing unsaturated fatty acids can prevent CVD. Amaranth was studied in relation to these findings and found it to be potentially beneficial for CVD patients.
Test results also concluded that amaranth oil could be a functional food product for preventing and treating cardiovascular diseases.2