Amaranth is considered a recent food for consumption by Brazilians, but in a short time it has already managed to occupy a place at the table of health and fitness lovers, especially those seeking to lose weight, reduce cholesterol and balance pressure .
As it does not contain gluten, it is an excellent option for celiacs, people with gluten intolerance/allergy, and it can also be a great option for vegetarians and those who practice physical activities.
Furthermore, it is easily digestible and can be given to newborn children and the elderly. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) considers that amaranth is “the best plant-based protein on the planet” ( 1 ).
Amaranth: the 6 benefits of this superfood
Amaranth can trigger numerous health benefits when used regularly and following the correct daily amount for consumption. Meet some of them:
1- Regulates cholesterol
Studies ( 2 ) suggest that amaranth, being rich in phytosterols, has the potential to reduce the level of bad cholesterol in the body. According to research carried out at the University of Uningá, in Paraná, the protein from amaranth can reduce total cholesterol by 48%, and the plasma content of non-HDL cholesterol by 57%.
2- Controls blood pressure
The peptides present in this grain, which are the junction of two or more amino acids, prevent the functioning of enzymes responsible for raising blood pressure, regulating and making it stable.
To reach all parts of the body, the blood pumped from the heart pushes against the inner walls of the arteries, and they resist this passage. That’s when the peptides come into action, trying to facilitate this access.
High blood pressure, that is, greater than 12.8, mainly affects the heart, since unregulated blood circulation can compromise the amount of blood and oxygen needed for the proper functioning of the organ , harming the heart muscle and causing an infarction.
Hypertension can also lead to clogging of the arteries in the head causing stroke, the popular stroke.
3- lose weight
Amaranth has a strong benefit in terms of the weight loss process. As it is a food rich in fiber and carbohydrate source with a low glycemic index, the grain reduces the peak of glucose in the body, reducing the release of insulin and promoting greater satiety. ( 3 )
The foods rich in fiber are resistant to digestion, spending more time in the stomach, which is delaying the feeling of hunger for longer.
As it has a low glycemic index, the speed that amaranth will take to transform into sugar (glucose) and be absorbed by the body is very low. When all the glucose is absorbed by the body, the level of insulin (responsible for reducing the level of glucose in the blood) decreases, not causing hunger.
If you consume too much glucose, your cells may become resistant to insulin’s signals to recover glucose from the blood. This forces your body to store excess glucose as fat, so your appetite increases and you gain weight. Hence the need to consume foods with a low glycemic index.
4- Favors muscle mass gain and recovery
As it is rich in mineral salts such as magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium, amaranth maintains the balance of body fluids, controls muscle contraction, takes oxygen to the muscles and manages to regulate energy metabolism. ( 4 )
The development of the body’s musculature takes place through continuous exercises, but for that the muscle cells need energy. Oxygen provides this energy as long as there are enough nutrients for it and food is the main source of this energy. It is from the richness of consumed nutrients that the necessary amount of oxygen will be released to the musculature, favoring its proper functioning and recovery when subjected to efforts.
5- Prevents cancer
It has anti-cancer substances in expressive concentrations. One of them is squalene, an organic acid with antioxidant capacity, the grain has 8% in its composition.
6- It is gluten free
Because it does not contain gluten, the grain is also an attractive raw material for the preparation of products for people with celiac disease , a hypersensitivity to gliadin (protein portion of gluten) and which can lead to endocrinological, neurological and psychiatric changes.
For life, people with this disease need to have discipline in the diet allowed for life, which limits their choices. Common products like breads, pasta, cakes, and all others that contain gluten need to be removed from the diet. ( 2 )
The chemical composition of amaranth is very similar to our rice and beans. This is because grains have a concentration of 14% of proteins, the same found in beans. And because they are rich in lysine, an essential amino acid for our body that is not manufactured by our body, also present in rice.
|Serving 30g (3 tablespoons)||Amount per serving||% VD (*)|
|Energetic value||107 kcal||5|
|Total fat||0,9 g||2|
|Saturated fat||0 g||0|
|Trans fat||0 g||0|
|food fiber||2,3 g||9|
* Daily reference values based on a 2000kcal or 8400kj diet. Your daily values can be higher or lower depending on your energy needs.
What is amaranth?
Amaranth, with the scientific name Amaranthus caudatus L ., is a native plant from America, more specifically from the Andes region, which has recently become widespread in Brazilian cuisine. The grains of the plant, which is also known as bred or pigweed , are considered a pseudo-cereal for having similar characteristics to cereals.
There are about 60 variations of the plant, some of which are cultivated specially for harvesting its seeds. They are extracted from the plant’s stems and can be used for culinary and medicinal purposes, as well as its leaves, which are appreciated both cooked and braised, or even raw when they are very young.
The plant is also used in the ornamentation of squares and gardens, thanks to its exuberant blood red coloration.
Despite being an old acquaintance in several countries, in Brazil not long ago people started to hear about this cereal. The research carried out with amaranth began around 1996 and from then on it began to be cultivated in the country.
Forms of consumption
Amaranth grains can be used in natura to compose salads, juices and smoothies, as well as in the form of breads, cakes, shakes, stir-fries, soups and desserts. There is also the option of consuming amaranth popcorn, very similar to the traditional corn popcorn, the difference is that the amaranth pops without the need for oil and is also much smaller than the corn popcorn.
You can usually find three versions of this food: grains, flour and flakes. Which makes it even easier to adapt your insert to the family’s menu.
Recipes with amaranth in grains, flakes and flour
- 2 cups (of tea) of amaranth beans
- 2 cups (of tea) of water
- ½ cup (of tea) of grated carrots
- 1 chopped seedless tomato
- ½ can of boiled peas
- ½ medium onion
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- ½ cup (of tea) of chopped chives
- ½ cup (of tea) of chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric (turmeric)
- 3 tablespoons of oil
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Sea salt to taste.
Wash the amaranth beans and cook for 8 minutes. After cooling, add all other ingredients. Serve with lettuce, arugula and chard leaves.
- 1 this
- 1 egg white
- 3 tablespoons of amaranth flour
- 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
- ½ cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 1 puff of salt.
Blend everything in a blender and let it sit for 1 minute. Grease the pan with a drizzle of coconut oil and add the dough. As soon as it unglues from the bottom, turn around.
Remove from fire when browned. Use the filling of your choice.
- Amaranth beans.
Place the beans in a non-stick pan over low heat. Shake the pan until all the beans pop. No need to use oil.
- 1 tablespoon of amaranth flour
- 1 tablespoon of rice flour
- 1 tablespoon of potato starch
- 1 tablespoon of sour powder
- 1 this
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 5 tablespoons of water
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1 level teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of chemical yeast.
Pre-heat the oven at 180 °. Mix the flour, salt, egg, water, oil and honey, finally, add mixing the yeast. Pour the batter into the greased and floured pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
- 1 carrot
- 1 orange
- 1 slice of pineapple
- 1 tablespoon of amaranth flakes
- ½ tablespoon of chia
- ½ tablespoon of quinoa
- 1 glass of 200 ml of water.
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend well. Consume on the spot.
Despite the countless benefits of amaranth for the health of the body and well-being, there are situations in which the consumption of this food should be done sparingly and under the guidance of a nutritionist.
People with kidney disease, for example, are part of one of the groups that should turn on the alert when the subject is amaranth, since it has high concentrations of protein and can overload the kidneys.
Diabetics and allergic people must also protect themselves, the first due to the expressive glycemic index of the grains and the other, due to sensitivity to some component.