Amaranth (Rajgira orRajgiri) was an important staple food for the Aztecs, 15-century residents of the present day Mexico but somehow got lost along with their civilization. Amaranth isn’t technically a grain
like oats, wheat, or rice. The flowers of the plant are made up of minuscule, grain-like buds, the reason why this plant often falls into the “grain” category. With recent research highlighting its many uses and
nutritional benefits, amaranth has been gaining importance as a super-grain.
Amaranth is a good source of carbohydrates and is packed with fiber. One cup serving of cooked grains provides 46 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fiber. Amaranth grains are high in protein and other minerals
like calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, folate, and selenium. The grains are also rich in antioxidants. An important aspect of this tiny grain is that it is gluten-free.
Some health benefits of amaranth are:
1 . Helps In Weight Loss
Since amaranth is high on fiber and slow to digest, it makes you feel full for longer eliminating the urge for repeated unhealthy snacking.
2 . Protects Against Cancer
Antioxidants found in amaranth prevent oxidative damage to the cells. This cuts down the risk of cell mutation into cancerous cells.
3 . Fights Inflammation
Amaranth has anti-inflammatory properties and helps in relieving chronic pain that occurs due to gout, arthritis and diabetes. It owes its anti-inflammatory properties to the presence of certain peptides.
4 . Promotes Bone Health
Being rich in calcium and phosphorous, amaranth helps build bone strength and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Since it contains lysine (an essential amino acid found rarely in plants), it helps the body absorb
5 . Builds Muscle Strength
Since amaranth is rich in protein which is the building block of muscles, they are good for muscle strength. Lysine contained in amaranth also helps in building muscles.
6 . Aids In Digestion
Amaranth is a fiber-rich grain that promotes digestive health and ensures healthy bowel movement.
7 . Promotes Heart Health
Potassium is linked with blood pressure and a healthy heart. Amaranth being rich in potassium helps maintain a healthy heart by balancing the good and bad cholesterol levels.
WAYS TO INCLUDE AMARANTH IN DIET
Amaranth can be included in the diet in the form of whole grains or in the form of amaranth flour. Some ways to include amaranth in your diet are:
–Popped: Amaranth grains are popped similar to popcorn and can be taken as snacks. Take few grains at a time and pop them on high heat. You can mix them with honey or caramel for flavor.
–Cookies: Amaranth flour can be used as a substitute for flour in cookies since it lends a crunchy taste. It might not taste as good as normal cookies, but it is a much healthier snack.
–Salad: Boil the amaranth with double the amount of water till the grains absorb all the moisture and mix it with cucumber, onion, tomato, extra virgin olive oil, peanuts, lemon juice, lemon rind, mint leaves, and some rock salt for making amaranth salad (tabbouleh).
–Porridge: You can add boiled amaranth to milk and eat it as porridge after adding sugar, raisins, and cashews.
Since amaranth increases the calcium absorption by the body, care should be taken not to take too much calcium along with amaranth since it could lead to calcium build-up in the body. Pick up this healthy
grain the next time you go grocery shopping and enjoy a healthy meal.