Amaranth: diverse benefits
Amaranth is among one of the prettiest plants produced and often is referred to as ‘the bleeding plant of love” or some other likewise known name.
Amaranth grows to its full potential within the fall months and has been highly regarded as one of nature’s best gifts due to its essential amino acid components, nutritional value and medicinal uses. Found generally in regions such as China, Mexico, and Peru this plant has been used for centuries for a host of things. Most recognized by its long stem which grows as tall as 3 to 4 feet, it also has flowering leaves that are often seen in brilliant reds or purple.
Amaranth Uses (Food)
Amaranth is used medicinally and for nutritional value. It is highly regarded in areas such as the Andes because its grains are amassed with proteins. Many of that region’s communities utilize amaranth within their cooking but also fry and bake the grain as a treat or snack. It is also commonly added to liquid drinks and helps to increase energy and keel gluten levels down.
In regions such as Mexico amaranth is often baked and mixed with flavorings such as honey or chocolate and served on the streets from vendors. Because it is packed with protein and gluten-free, as well as being affordable, it is a hot commodity and considered to be a staple in food sources.
Amaranth is also distilled and used in flour in these areas and has been studied vastly. Researchers have found that flour made with amaranth has lower density and overall better texture, and since it is gluten-free is also easier on the digestive system. Those who are gluten sensitive can use amaranth flour as a replacement to traditional flour and reap many benefits.
Although technically classified as a grain, many areas of the world consider some variations of amaranth to be a leafy vegetable that has a high nutritional value. ‘Cheera Thoran’ is a very popular dish in areas such as Kerala and is prepared by sautéing the leaves along with oils and red chili peppers, while in other regions the plant is mashed or broiled with flavorful seasonings and served as a side dish.
Another benefit of using amaranth as a vegetable is that no part of the plant goes to waste. Not only are the leaves utilized for cooking specialties, but the root is also delicious and is often used to produce milky like gravies which are amazing. Both the root and leaves are consistently used in stir fry and soups as well as side dishes that often compliment rice dinners.
Amaranth offers various nutritional elements as it is rich in vitamins A and C. Additionally those who consume it regularly benefit from its folic acid, potassium, zinc, calcium, niacin as well as a host of other nutritional additives. Amaranth seeds are a natural source of lysine which is in the amino acid category and whereas other vegetables don’t produce nearly enough of the amino acids the body needs, amaranth does.
Since amaranth is gluten-free, those who follow a gluten-free diet can utilize this plant as a fortified supplement for protein without worrying about jeopardizing their sensitive systems. Some research has also found that a diet rich in amaranth can lower blood pressure, hypertension and is often recommended to those who suffer from cardiovascular disease.
Amaranth Uses (Medicinal)
In addition to the various nutritional uses, amaranth is also widely used for medicinal purposes as well. Ancient ancestors have used this plant to counter and combat such illnesses as stomach flu, gastrointestinal disease and to stop excessive bleeding.
Women often take a prescribed dose of amaranth to assist with heavy menstrual cycles as well as to decrease the severity of cramping. In some cultures, amaranth was used as contraception.
The root of amaranth can be applied to cuts, scrapes, and bites to reduce swelling and infection. Athletes also use the root and apply it externally to reduce swelling caused by sprains and broken bones.
Within the amaranth plant is a well-known agent called squalene which has been notoriously studied in the medical community. It is thought that squalene (which is found in the seed of the plant) has properties that can reduce the risk of some forms of cancer, particularly colon cancer.
Globe Amaranth Tea has been found to be especially useful at combating aging and some studies have shown that it can work miracles for the skin, giving it a lustrous and glowing appearance. The tea itself is sweet-tasting and very mellow, unlike other teas such as green which often produce a bitter after taste.
Is Amaranth Safe?
To date, there is not a lot of data to support whether amaranth is 100% safe, although there are no known side effects recorded either. The proper dosage of amaranth is dependent upon a person’s age, health history, and other factors. Much of the research has concluded that women who are lactating or pregnant should avoid taking amaranth.