Amaranth. A ancient superfood.
Amaranth (am-uh-ranth) is a very nutritional leaf vegetable and grain. The name for these tall plants comes from a Greek word that means “the never fading” or “one that does not wither.” This grain is true to its name since it leaves retain their brilliance even after harvest and dying. The origin dates back to Aztecs who cultivated the greens about 6,000-8,000 year ago. They also used these crops to build statues of their deity by adding honey to the grain. Africa, India, China, Russia, South and North America are the biggest consumers of amaranth. It is also the native crop in Peru.
Most people mistake amaranth for a cereal grain but they are actually from a different family entirely. A cereal grain is a plant from the grass family that yields an edible seed (grain). However, since amaranth is not part of the grass family but still yields an edible grain, it is instead part of the pseudo-cereal family.
Not only is amaranth gluten free but it also contains many minerals and vitamins*. There are many other reasons why to include this grain into your diet, such as:
1. High Source of Protein (about 26grams per cup of uncooked grain)
2. Reduces Inflammation
3. Increases Bone Health
4. Lowers Cholesterol
5. Aids Digestive System
6. Fight Diabetes
7. High Source of Iron
8. Aids Weight Loss
Since amaranth is high in iron, it is a great grain to take if you are pregnant. It also contains folate, which helps the body to make new cells. For expecting mothers, this is essential since a decrease in folate can lead to neural tube defects and cause heart and limb deficiencies. Check on my instagram to see a video of my friend Avey who is a plant-based mother of two. She talks about the why she loves amaranth and how she used while pregnant (link below).
Currently I try to include amaranth in my diet weekly. Mainly because it's cheap to purchase and a great way to way to get protein into my diet. I usually consume the leaves. However, you could also use the seeds as a substitute for rice. Below I am sharing one of my favorite recipes that I cook using the leaves of the plant. Try it out and let me know what you think!
*Amaranth consists of vitamins A, B6, K and C and also folate and riboflavin. It also source a great source for iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
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