Amaranth (Amaranthaceae): Health benefits

Edited by Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati

Amaranthus of family Amaranthaceae is collectively known as amaranth. It is a gluten-free, highly nutritional pseudocereal.

Amaranth is gaining popularity recently because of the studies done which describe its high nutritional value and agronomic potential. Amaranth was an important food crop in the Aztec, Mayan, and Incan civilizations around 5000 years ago (1).

It is also categorized under superfood because of its functional properties in the form of antioxidants, lowers cholesterol levels, boosts immunity, has antitumor activity, reducing blood glucose levels and improving conditions of hypertension and anemia.

Nutritional value of Amaranth

Amaranth is rich in protein almost have doun]ble calcium than milk and a good source of iron and other components as follows (2).

Compound Amounts per 100 g.
Water 11.29 g
Energy 371 kcal
Protein 13.56 g
Total lipid (Fat)s 7.02 g
Carbohydrates 65.25 g
Dietary Fiber 6.7 g
Sugar 1.69 g
Vitamins
Folates 82 µg
Niacin 0.92 mg
Riboflavin 0.20 mg
Thiamin 0.12 mg
Vitamin A 2 IU
Vitamin E 1.19 mg
Vitamin C 4.2 µg
Minerals
Calcium 159 mg
Iron 7.61 mg
Magnesium 248 mg
Phosphorous 557 mg
Zinc 2.87 mg
Sodium 4 mg
Potassium 508 mg

Health benefits of Amaranth

1. Balance gut microbiota

Amaranth is a superfood and has a nutritional composition that confers multiple benefits. It has prebiotic potential. Consumption may improve gastrointestinal health through a balanced intestinal microbiota (3).

2. Prevent cardiovascular diseases (CVD)

Taking amaranth oil helps in increasing the concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly, long-chain acid of omega 3 families and prevent coronary heart disease (4).

3. Reduces tension

Due to the defective cell membrane, blood pressure gets an increase. The flow of Na and K gets stops which further leads to hypertension. Amaranthus oil has the capacity to maintain cell membrane fluidity and stabilizes the function. Also, Amaranth protein hydrolysates, globulins, and glutelins reduce systolic blood pressure and prevent hypertension (5 and 6).

4. Lowers cholesterol

Amaranth grain and oil decrease the amount of total cholesterol, triglycerides, very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol and increased fecal excretion (7).

5. Antioxidant activity

Rich antioxidants of amaranth help in inhibiting the lipid peroxidation and protect against serum and liver intoxication. It is also beneficial for the recovery of severely malnourished children and increases in the body mass index of people formerly wasted by HIV/AIDS (8).

6. Antimicrobial

Amaranth is rich in flavonoids, tannins, saponins, alkaloids, proteins, and glycosides which possess the antimicrobial activity. Therefore, can be used as an antiseptic product and natural ingredients with their antimicrobial effects in the food industry (9).

7. Anti Inflammatory

The researcher discovered that amaranth seed and sprouts contain betacyanins. Hence has the ability to accumulate Selenium which is beneficial to the lower risk of chronic inflammation-related diseases.

Therefore, Amaranth seeds and sprouts may become a valuable source of betacyanin as an alternative to beetroot, and in addition to its unique biological and nutritive properties (10).

8. Improves digestion

Amaranth sprouts are a rich source of protein and antioxidants which improves gastrointestinal disorders. Rich fibers also help in increasing the digestion ability and eliminate constipation.

Scientific facts: Sprouts of amaranth does ABTS+ radical scavenging activity. This activity gets increased after gastrointestinal digestion. And the ability to absorb oxygen radicals decreases or remains unchanged after gastrointestinal digestion (11).

9. Protects from celiac disease

Amaranth flour because of its gluten-free nature used for nutrition of people suffering from intolerance to traditional cereals protein, including celiac disease (12).

10. Healthy Liver

Being a good source of phenols, flavonoids, saponins, and tannins the superfood amaranth exerts a protective effect in serum and liver (13).

11. Antidiabetic

The antidiabetic activity of Amaranth includes improvement of the peripheral utilization of glucose, alteration of impaired liver glycolysis and limiting its gluconeogenic formation similar to insulin. This effect may be due to the presence of alkaloids, flavonoids, galloatnoids (14).

12. Healthy bone

Amaranth contains more calcium than other seeds, which makes it a superfood. It, therefore, helps to have a healthy development of bones and prevents osteoporosis (15).

13. Prevents obesity

Rich source of dietary fiber of Amaranth has very high potential to curb appetite. It minimizes short term food intake and is able to keep a check on body weight gain upon regular consumption (16).

14. Good for eyes

The sap of Amaranth is used as an eyewash to treat ophthalmia and convulsions in children. The β-carotene and lutein present in amaranth act as an antioxidant which prevents cataracts formation and age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration (17).

15. Anti-cancerous

Amaranth contains lectin which possesses anti-antitumor activity. It also exhibits growth inhibitory activity by arresting the cell cycle and induce apoptosis (18).

The side effect of Amaranth

Amaranth has no side effect because practically No clinical study has reported, no one really knows its long-term effects on a person’s health (19).

Healthy Recipes of Amaranth

1. Amaranth Porridge

Ingredients

  1. Soaked amaranth
  2. Water
  3. Milk
  4. Sugar
  5. Salt
  6. Cardamom

Method

  1. Heat a pan and add water to it. Boil the water and add amaranth. Stir continuously in order to avoid sticking to the bottom. Reduce the flame and let it boil for 20 to 30 mins.
  2. Add milk and heat it for 1 to 2 mins.
  3. Then add sugar as per taste and a pinch of salt.
  4. Add cardamom powder

Health benefits of Amaranth Porridge

  1. Good for a weight loss diet
  2. Rich source of protein and calcium
  3. Digestive

2. Amaranth Yogurt

Boil amaranth with water. Add yogurt and honey and other dry fruits or fruits and eat it a breakfast dish.

3. Amaranth salad

Toast amaranth seeds with sesame seeds and other vegetables of your choice. Similarly, you can prepare a fruit salad of amaranth and have it as a breakfast dish

4. Amaranth scrambled eggs

Saute half cup amaranth with other green leafy vegetables for 3 to 5 mins. And keep it aside.

Now whisk 2 to 3 eggs with one tablespoon milk and salt as per your taste. Add it to the saute vegetables and amaranth then cook it for 4 to 5 mins.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23072528
  2. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/305205?manu=&fgcd=&ds=SR&q=Amaranth%20grain,%20uncooked
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1779269/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1779269/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6150404/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951545/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12690910
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951545/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6106121/
  10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12011-015-0429-x
  11. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2015.1004585
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25059059
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21547507
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6106121/
  15. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11130-006-0004-x
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4573157/
  17. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2314808X17302166
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4888664/
  19. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/19390210903280348?src=recsys&journalCode=ijds20

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