Have you ever heard of amaranth? It is considered a superfood due to its fantastic properties. These seeds are very similar to those of quinoa, but smaller and with a high nutritional value. Today we will tell you where this food comes from, what are the benefits it brings and we will give you some ideas to integrate it into your diet.
In our food section you will find some of the so-called superfoods or superfoods (in English). They are so named because they provide numerous health benefits due to their high nutritional density, giving us a high level of proteins, nutrients and vitamins. Among the best known superfoods are quinoa, avocado and kale or kale.
Amaranth, not yet well known in Spain, is also part of this group. It was considered the best food of plant origin for human consumption, according to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).
It’s about a pseudocereal, since it has characteristics very similar to those of cereals but, in turn, has qualities that resemble legumes, such as its high protein level. Also, one of the most important features is that does not contain gluten.
Its cultivation dates back more than 7000 years ago, since it was part of the basis of the diet of the pre-Hispanic cultures of America. Mayas, Incas and Aztecs dedicated vast territories to its cultivation and used it in religious rituals as an offering to the gods, mixed with honey. It is currently grown in Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, India, China, Russia, Germany, and North America.
Properties and benefits of amaranth
High iron and protein content
This allows the woman’s body to recover long before the losses caused by menstruation, especially in those cases in which they are very abundant, being a form of counteract anemia.
During pregnancy and lactation it can be a natural supplement at times when nothing chemical can be taken.
In addition, it contains 13.7% of vegetal protein, so that it is one of the plant foods with the highest quantity. This makes it an ideal food for athletes and people who perform a high physical activity. Its high protein value also allows muscle development and recovery.
Source of energy, suitable for celiacs and diabetics
The main component of amaranth is carbohydrates (59%), the vast majority of which are in the form of starch. However, they are not accompanied by gluten as in other cereals.
Also, as the glycemic index it is under they can also take it diabetics.
Contains 8 of the 9 essential amino acids
Essential amino acids are those that our body does not synthesize and that, therefore, we have to take with food. In the case of these seeds, they contain twice as much lysine than wheat protein, triple that of corn and is comparable in content to cow’s milk protein.
Another of the essential amino acids that it contains and that stands out above the others is tryptophan. This is key to the production of serotonin, the happiness hormone. In addition, its consumption is recommended for people suffering from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, schizophrenia, Asperger’s and autism.
Contains twice the calcium of milk and is rich in magnesium
The combination of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus strengthens the bone system, that is why it is especially recommended for those who have problems with osteoporosis or women who are in menopause, where decalcification processes occur more frequently.
It is a source of vitamins and minerals: A, B, C, B1, B2, B3, D and K
The vitamins that they provide, the minerals and the trace elements, make amaranth a very restorative. It is a great source of calcium, also provides a good dose of magnesium and is an excellent source of iron (superior to spinach), as well as zinc and selenium, which stimulate the immune system.
Rich in squalene
Squalene is an antioxidant fatty substance that has protective effects on the skin, the circulatory system, and the intestines. This substance was extracted from shark liver and was attributed anticancer properties.
Also, its high antioxidant power makes it a highly recommended food for prevent cardiovascular disease.
Excellent source of Fiber
The fiber content contained in these seeds (6.7%) is higher than that of most cereals and this contributes to the proper functioning of the intestine and to the care of the intestinal flora. Helps fight constipation problems and favors cholesterol removal.
How to cook amaranth
In cooking, amaranth seeds are used as a cereal. It is a very versatile food. It can be taken boiled, toasted, puffed, as if it were flour or sprouts and integrated into both salty and sweet recipes.
When cooked, the seed gives off an intense smell and its flavor is accentuated.
Can be used to prepare soupsInstead of using the typical noodles, they can be substituted for amaranth seeds.
Although we explain how to cook amaranth below, the way to prepare it and consume it in main dishes is very similar to quinoa or couscous. Then you can season or add vegetables, chicken, sauces, spices … another idea is to use it for stuff aubergines or tomatoes.
It can also be used in bread making, biscuits or from croquettes, like flour.
In sweet recipes, it combines perfectly with honey. In Mexico they prepare a typical sweet with amaranth called joy.
Another way amaranth is marketed is in the form of puffed seed, as if they were cereals. In that case, they can be taken as a complementary ingredient in salads or to add them to yoghurt.
Cook the amaranth
The ratio to take into account is two and a half cups of water for one of seeds, approximately.
While cooking, it is important to keep the casserole covered and, when the seeds have absorbed the water, it should be removed from the heat and allowed to stand for ten minutes.
Do you know any other way to cook or take amaranth? Tell us through the comments and also if it is the first time you hear about this superfood, if you will be encouraged to include it in your diet. We hope so because as you can see, it is very beneficial for health!