As amaranth has been coming to light since the 1970s, so have some of its amazing health benefits.
When we did a nutrient comparison of all the different ancient grains, we decided to rank them to see how they compare to each other. Amaranth came through with flying colors. It was in the top three in 11 of the categories. It was the #1 grain for vitamin C, vitamin B6, and Pantothenic acid. It was #2 grain for omega 6 fatty acids, iron, magnesium, and potassium. It was the #3 grain for vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium.
This tells us that amaranth is really a complete package!
Let’s break this down a little. We love amaranth because:
- It is a “protein powerhouse.” Amaranth is easily ahead of most all other grains in its protein content. It is higher in protein than 70% of the grains on this website. The protein in amaranth, though, is special because it contains lysine which is absent from a lot of grains. Pete Noll, the executive director of Bridge to Community Health said, “Amaranth’s amino acid profile is as close to perfect as you can get for a protein source.” The quality of protein in amaranth is among the best in the vegetable world and is almost to the level of animal-based products. Great news for plant based eaters or anyone looking for a healthier protein source!
- It is high in essential minerals. Amaranth is a good source of calcium which is so indispensable for our skeletal system. Like we mentioned before, as far as the grains on this website, it is topped only by teff and chia seeds for calcium, coming it at 12% of our daily value in a half cup. It is also high in the following minerals: iron (carries oxygen to our whole body), magnesium (an enzymatic cofactor that we need for many body processes), phosphorus (needed for all of our cells and especially affects our energy production, genetic code, and nervous system), and potassium (important in nerve function, electrolyte regulation, blood pressure, and muscle control).
- It’s great for the cardiovascular system. In the last 14 years, research has been done to demonstrate that amaranth has great heart benefits. Especially studies done in Russia, the University of Guelph in Canada, and the US Department of Agriculture have shown that to be true. It has a great capacity to significantly decrease cholesterol levels.
- It’s gluten-free! Gluten is the hot topic of today. An element that has long been a part of our diet is showing its true colors. Many people are discovering that they can’t handle it. It’s not necessary or even particularly good for our digestive systems. Amaranth is one of many grains that does not contain gluten and can be safely eaten by those struggling with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
- It may prevent cancer. A study done in Mexico on amaranth discovered a protein similar to lunasin. Lunasin is generally believed to prevent cancer.
- It has good nutrient bioavailability. Amaranth is lower in phytic acid than most other grains which means our body gets more of the nutrients available in the grain.