Although for many it is a little known food, in reality, amaranth is a pseudo-cereal native to South America, consumed since ancient times, which became a fundamental ingredient in the diet of ancient pre-Columbian civilizations, such as the Mayan or the Aztec. Due to its nutritional value, more and more people are including it in different culinary preparations because it is considered that there are numerous benefits that it can bring to health in general.
What is amaranth
Amaranth is a plant whose seeds are very similar to cereal grains such as wheat, rice or corn. Hence, as with quinoa, it is considered a pseudocereal . As it has become known, its consumption has increased because its rich composition includes essential macronutrients and micronutrients for the proper functioning of our body as a whole.
It is a natural source of vegetable proteins of high biological value, since it contains all the essential amino acids and, in addition, it stands out for its high content of antioxidants , which help to combat the action of free radicals, preventing the premature aging of our cells. Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron or zinc are some of the minerals it provides, without forgetting that it is also one of the foods from which we obtain B group vitamins and a good amount of the fiber that we need on a daily basis. It is, therefore, a very complete and nutritious food suitable for coeliacs as it does not contain gluten.
What is amaranth for?
The balance between the nutrients in amaranth is what gives this food its good properties. Taken in its proper measure, it can provide important benefits.
- First of all, amaranth grains contain a considerable amount of carbohydrates, reaching, depending on the variety, up to 60 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams of amaranth. It is, therefore, an ideal energy food for athletes and also for people who carry out intense physical activity, for example, at work.
- As we have pointed out, the quality of its protein is also a value that makes it advisable to include it in a balanced diet, since it helps the good condition of our muscles and in general of all the tissues that make up our body.
- Amaranth seeds also contain. different elements of antioxidant action, especially flavonoids and vitamins A and C essential to prevent oxidative stress and premature cell aging.
- The fiber provided by the grain (and also the leaves of the plant) fulfills such important functions as helping to regulate or prevent overweight and obesity . Here you can learn more about How to use amaranth to lose weight .
- Fiber also helps maintain good cardiovascular health , being beneficial when it comes to controlling blood cholesterol levels, thanks to the presence of unsaturated fatty acids, and also blood pressure.
How to cook amaranth
It should be clarified that although amaranth seeds are generally consumed , the leaves of this plant are also used in some countries, using them in the same way as other vegetables such as chard or spinach. If what you want is to cook the grain, doing so is really simple and you can prepare it almost the same as any other cereal, for example, grains of rice. The most common is to take amaranth boiled or cooked and to do so, you just have to follow these instructions:
- Calculate two and a half cups of water for each one of grains of amaranth.
- Put them over medium heat in a saucepan and when it starts to boil, lower the heat.
- Keep it until the grain absorbs all the water, about 20 minutes .
- It is advisable to let it rest for a few minutes before using it in the preparation you want.
You can add the spices you prefer and eat it as a healthy side dish, incorporate the grains in salads or combine them with other cereals, such as quinoa, with nuts or even with legumes to obtain a complete dish.
Contraindications of amaranth
In general, amaranth does not present severe contraindications, except in the case of allergy or intolerance to this food. Even so, as with any other food, its intake should be moderate, as part of a healthy diet. Taking it excessively could cause its high fiber content to have negative effects, especially in people who suffer from digestive problems or irritable bowel . In addition, it should be borne in mind that fiber, in principle, is good and promotes proper intestinal transit, but an excessive amount could trigger discomfort or stomach pain and episodes of heartburn, reflux or diarrhea.
Now that you know what amaranth is and what it is for, if you like foods of this type, such as quinoa, that is, seeds that are beneficial for our health in general, as long as they are consumed properly, you may be interested in knowing these 11 types of edible seeds and their properties .