To the Aztecs, Incas and the Mayans, Amaranth was an important staple along with Corn & Beans. It was so prized for the strength it gave them and has played a major role in their religious ceremonies. Amaranth was first introduced in Europe in the 16th century as an ornamental plant and later on spread throughout the world during the 17th century. It has become an important grain and vegetable crop in China, India and the Himalayas. Today Amaranth is grown in the United States, South America, Russia and Europe, where The Czech Republic is the largest producer.
Just how nutritious is Amaranth?
Amaranth is hailed as a super-grain because it contains all the essential amino acids. It is extremely high in lysine which your body requires for absorbing protein, as well as calcium and magnesium. The leaves alone has an iron level which is three times more than spinach. They are low in both saturated fat and cholesterol and also a very good source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. It is also rich in vitamins A and C, protein, and folic acid. The seeds are very high in proteins and low in gluten.
Let’s have more about this amazing plant. It contains an unusual chemical called squalene (found in shark's liver), which is a powerful antioxidant and has been used to boost the immune system, treat hypertension, skin problems and metabolic disorders. It also contains betalain, a very powerful antioxidant compound, fairly unusual in the plant world, and with a significant nutritional benefit.
Are you a diabetic and need to eat a balanced diet to control your glucose level? Well, this is the right food for you. The high fiber content of Amaranth makes it a low glycemic high energy food.
Do You want to lose weight? Take Amaranth grains! It is high protein and complex carbohydrate structure, a favored food for weight watchers. The high fiber in Amaranth also keeps you full longer.
The best part of all is that Amaranth has no known side effects. On the other hand, pregnant or breast feeding mothers are recommended to be on the safe side by not making a switch to this grain during this time.
Finally, do you know that the ancient Greeks consider the Amaranth as a symbol for immortality and is associated with the goddess of the hunt, Artemis? It is so sacred that crowns were made from it with the belief that who wore such crown would gain fortune & fame.