Amaranth is often lumped into the "ancient grain" category, however, it's not actually a grain, but a seed. One amaranth plant may produce as many as half a million seeds! This ancient grain-like seed has been used for thousands of years as a source of food and even used within religious rituals. It was a staple for the Aztecs.
These days, amaranth is beginning to regain popularity because it is not only gluten-free but also has an array of healthful properties...
A Powerful Protein Punch
Amaranth packs a powerful 26 grams of protein for one cup. This is very impressive when considering that there are only 13 grams of protein in rice.
Vitamins & Minerals in Amaranth
Continuing with the serving of one cup, amaranth also contains 15 milligrams of iron and is the only grain with a documented vitamin C content. It also contains a great deal of manganese and calcium, as well as more minor amounts of magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
Amaranth is also a good source of lysine, which is an amino acid that helps the body to produce energy and build muscle. The amino acid peptide compounds in this seed are anti-inflammatory and can therefore help decrease the risk of heart conditions and many other illnesses that are aggravated by systemic inflammation.
Although gluten free, amaranth does contain small amounts of phytates, therefore soaking is recommended to begin the seeds' germination process. This increases the nutrient availability as the body's ability to absorb the nutrients is considerably increased. Simply place amaranth in a bowl with warm water and 2 teaspoons lemon. Soak overnight or up to 12 hours. Rinse, then cook as normal!
Why Choose Properly Prepared Whole Grains?
Many people shy away from grains, thinking that because they are carbohydrates they will elevate blood sugar levels and go straight to the hips as fat. This is true with refined grain products made from flour, but not so much with whole grains. When whole grains are soaked overnight and properly prepared they actually help the body to regulate blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, promote bowel regularity and detoxify the body. Adding a dollop of butter and a tad of cinnamon to your whole grains slows the release of sugar into the blood and increases mineral absorption.
Amaranth can be used like most other grains— as a breakfast porridge, in salads, soups, stews and even as a medium for puddings and deserts. It's flour form can also be used to thicken sauces or gravies.
If you're a rice or quinoa fanatic, it's a really nice, healthy alternative... and if you're a bread fanatic, try giving whole grains like amaranth a try! You'll be doing your body a whole lot of good.
So, tell us, have you tried amaranth yet? What do you think?