Amaranth is a plant that produces edible starchy seeds that look similar to grains. The seeds resemble quinoa and are popular for their fiber and protein content.
Because amaranth is a
Some researchers and alternative health advocates also believe it may have medicinal benefits. However, research on this subject is not conclusive.
Read on to learn more about amaranth, its uses, and its potential benefits.
There are several purported benefits of amaranth. They include the following:
Amaranth is a pseudo-grain. This means that even though it is technically a seed, it looks and tastes similar to a grain.
Although it is a good substitute for other cereal grains, it has a higher protein content. It is also a complete protein, making it a beneficial choice for people who do not consume or cannot afford animal protein sources.
Fiber plays an
Amaranth may provide more accessible, affordable nutrition, especially in areas where animal protein is not affordable.
It also has a fairly long storage life. According to the Oldways Whole Grain Council, it can keep for up to 8 months in a freezer or 4 months in a pantry.
Amaranth’s use dates back to at least 7,000–8,000 years ago. It was one of three major crops the Aztec Empire cultivated and has continued to play an important role in many cultures.
Traditional folk medicine practitioners have long used amaranth as a medicine. However, scientific research into its benefits is still new. Some potential medicinal benefits include:
- Anemia prevention: Amaranth contains iron, so it
may helpprevent or treat anemia.
- Antioxidant content: Amaranth contains antioxidants that may help prevent oxidative damage. Some
research suggestsantioxidants could reduce a person’s risk of cancer.
- Antimicrobial benefits: Certain strains of amaranth may help to kill microbes in a laboratory setting, particularly Escherichia coli. It may also help fight candida, the fungi that cause yeast infections.
Amaranth contains protein, fiber, and iron, though the precise nutritional content will vary depending on the type of amaranth and how a person prepares it. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 100 grams (g) of cooked amaranth
However, it is possible for any substance to cause an allergic reaction or to irritate the stomach. People who develop a rash, difficulty breathing, or other signs of a severe allergic reaction after eating amaranth should seek emergency medical care.
The main risk of amaranth, as with any supposedly medicinal substance, occurs when a person uses it to treat a medical condition rather than seeking medical help. People who want to try amaranth should consider starting with a small quantity if they have a history of digestive problems.
However, for most people, amaranth is safe to consume.
To cook amaranth, add water in a 2:1 ratio — for example, two cups of water per cup of amaranth. It is also possible to cook with amaranth flour.
A person may wish to try the following to incorporate amaranth into their diet:
Amaranth is an ancient whole grain with a high protein and fiber content, especially compared with other grains. It is also high in iron and antioxidants, pointing to potential health and medicinal benefits.
As with many forms of alternative and folk medicine, experts have not yet tested amaranth’s potential medical uses.