Amaranth is a versatile and nutritious group of grains that has been cultivated for thousands of years. The name for amaranth comes from the Greek amarantos, “one that does not wither,” or “the never-fading.” Amaranth grain has a long and colorful history in Mexico. It was a major food crop of the Aztecs, and some have estimated amaranth was domesticated between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago. Annual grain tributes of amaranth to the Aztec emperor were common. The Aztecs didn’t just grow and eat amaranth; they also used the grains as part of their religious practices. Many ceremonies would include the creation of their god’s image that had been made from a combination of amaranth grains and nectar. Once formed, the images were worshipped before being broken into pieces and distributed for people to eat. When Cortez and his Spaniards landed in the New World in the sixteenth century, they immediately began fervent and often forceful attempts to convert the Aztecs to Christianity. One of their ﬁrst moves? Outlaw foods involved in “heathen” festivals and religious ceremonies, amaranth included. Although severe punishment was handed to anyone found growing or possessing amaranth, complete eradication of this culturally important, fast-growing, and very prevalent plant proved to be impossible.
National Geographic has reported that amaranth has been recommended by the World Health Organization as a well-balanced food and recommended by NASA for consumption in space missions.
Health Benefits of Amaranth
The Amaranth seed comes from a plant that is very rich in protein, fiber, Iron and micronutrients. Protein and fiber may help reduce appetite and increase weight loss. It is a good source of health-promoting antioxidants, as it helps prevent diabetes, helps protect liver against alcohol, as well as other chronic diseases. It has been associated with a number of health benefits, including reduced inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and increased weight loss.
Specifically, amaranth has one of the highest protein content among cereals. It is a great source of minerals and vitamins such as: A, B, C, B1, B2 and B3 as well as:
- Folic Acid
- Very important for pregnant women.
- Helps build and maintain strong bones.
- The heart, muscle and nerves need it to function properly.
- Helps preserve energy and focus.
- Also supports gastrointestinal processes and immune systems.
- Helps treat high cholesterol, prevent heart disease, and diabetes.
- It also boosts brain and skin function.
- Helps build strong bones and teeth.
- Filters out waste from kidneys.
- Grows, maintains and repairs tissue and cells.
- Important for brain function.
- Protects against neurological conditions.
Amaranth is also very rich in amino acids such as Lysine which helps protect against and treats cold sores. It also has the following nutritional and medicinal benefits:
- It helps reduce anxiety and helps wound healing.
- It helps control;
- Cancer in the colon.
- Arterial Hypertension
- Liver Failure
- Celiac Disease
- It is also recommended in diet for people with autism.
- Amaranth Health and Nutrient Information