Amaranth is a grain that is known to be highly nutritious and offers a number of health benefits to mankind. Read below to know about some of the best health benefits of amaranth.
Amaranth has got an excellent nutrient profile with lots of crucial nutrients and is thus associated with several number of health benefits. It is a group that includes more than 60 different species of healthy grains and is known to be a staple food in the Maya, Inca and Aztec civilizations. It is classified as a pseudocereal, and unlike wheat or oats, it is not technically a cereal grain, however, it shares comparable set of essential nutrients and it is also used in similar ways. Amaranth has got a nutty flavor and this is the reason why it goes really well in a lot of dishes.
Amaranth is very nutritious and is also gluten-free naturally. It is packed with fiber, protein, antioxidants and micronutrients.
The Nutritional Profile Of Amaranth:
Amaranth is mostly packed with protein and fiber and also several essential micronutrients. It is especially a great source of magnesium, manganese, iron and phosphorus.
One cup or 246 grams of cooked grains of amaranth contains 251 calories, 9.3 grams of proteins, 5.2 grams of fat, 46 grams of carbohydrates, Magnesium is 40% of the RDI, Manganese is 105% of the RDI, Phosphorus if 36% of the RDI, Iron is 29% of the RDI, copper is 18% of RDI, and selenium if 19% of RDI.(1)
We mentioned above that manganese is present in rich amount in amaranth and it is very much important for the proper functioning of the brain and it is also believed to prevent certain kinds of neurological conditions.(2) Moreover, amaranth is also a good source of magnesium, which is an important nutrient and is involved in about 300 reactions in our body, which includes the muscle contraction and DNA synthesis.(3) The high content of phosphorus found in the grain is quite important for our bone health and the rich iron content helps in the production of blood in the body.(4)
As we proceed further in this article we will discover more of the health benefits of amaranth.
17 Health Benefits Of Amaranth:
Amaranth Is Good At Reducing Inflammation:
One of the most impressive health benefits of amaranth is its benefit in reducing inflammation. Inflammation is actually a normal immune response that is designed for protecting our body against infection and injury. However, a chronic inflammation might contribute to several chronic diseases and it has been linked with several health conditions including diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disorders.(5)
There are a lot of studies which have found that the grains of amaranth might have an anti-inflammatory effect in our body.
It was found in a test-tube study that amaranth was able to reduce several markers of body inflammation.(6)
Just in the same way, one animal study found that amaranth aided in inhibiting the Immunoglobulin E production, which is a type of antibody that is involved in the body’s allergic inflammation.(7)
It was found from a study that the anti-inflammatory effects of amaranth can help in the treatment of arthritis that is an inflammatory condition.(8) In one report presented by the Arthritis Foundation, it was mentioned that amaranth can be a great choice for someone who is suffering from arthritic condition.(9) The anti-inflammatory ability of amaranth is due to the magnesium content present in it.
Moreover, these anti-inflammatory properties of amaranth can also be due to the phytochemicals, which are found significantly in the grain.(10)
However, it is still important to have more research on this to measure the effectiveness and potential of amaranth as an anti-inflammatory agent in humans.
It Is Good For Weight Loss:
How do you feel when we say, amaranth is also good for weight loss? Isn’t it really great to know? Yes, if you are looking to lose some of those extra pounds then you need to consider adding amaranth in your regular diet. Amaranth is packed with fiber and proteins, both of which are known to be beneficial at reducing some weight from your body.
It was found from a small study that a high-protein breakfast had resulted in a reduced level of Ghrelin, which is a hormone that actually stimulates hunger.(11)
In one more study done in 19 people, it showed that a diet rich in high amount of protein is associated with a reduction in appetites as well as the calorie intake.(12)
Apart from this, we already known that amaranth has lots of fiber and this might help in promoting the feelings of fullness.
A study that followed 252 women for continuous 20 months found that an increased intake of fiber was linked with a reduced level of risk of weight gain and body fat.(13)
But still, more research is still required to confirm the effects of amaranth in reducing weight. However, you can add amaranth to your daily diet along with an active lifestyle, to have maximum weight loss.
Amaranth Might Help In Lowering The Cholesterol Levels:
One more important health benefits of amaranth is that it helps you in lowering the levels of cholesterol in the body. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is present all throughout the body and too much of this substance can build up in our blood and result in the narrowing of the arteries.
There are some interesting animal studies which have found that amaranth might have properties of lowering the levels of cholesterol.
According to a study conducted in hamsters, it showed that the oil from amaranth reduced the total as well as the LDL or the bad cholesterol by 15% and 22%
respectively. In addition to this, amaranth also reduced the levels of LDL or the bad cholesterol and increased the HDL or the good cholesterol levels. (14)
There is also another study done in chickens that reported that a diet that contains amaranth reduces the total cholesterol level by about 30% and the LDL or the bad cholesterol by about 70% (15)
However it must be noted that though we have some real promising results from the studies, it is important to have some more research on how amaranth might effects the levels of cholesterol in we human beings.
Amaranth Has Antioxidant Properties:
One of the finest health benefits of amaranth is that it has got excellent antioxidant properties and helps in protecting against several harmful free radicals in our body. These free radicals cause damage to our body cells and result in the occurrence of a lot of chronic diseases.(16)
A review is found that reports that amaranth is highly rich in phenolic acids, which are the plant compounds acting as antioxidants. These compounds include
p-hydroxybenzoic acid, gallic acid, and vanillic acid, all three of which might help in protecting against several diseases like cancer and heart diseases.(17,18)
In a rat study, it was found that amaranth increased the activity of some antioxidants and helped in protecting the liver of the rat against alcohol.(19)
It is essential to have more of studies to determine how the antioxidant properties of amaranth might impact human beings.
It must be mentioned that raw amaranth has got a very high amount of antioxidants, and many studies have found that the antioxidant activity of amaranth may reduce by soaking and processing it.
It Is Gluten- Free:
Another health benefit of amaranth is that it is gluten free. Gluten is actually a protein mainly present in grains like barley, wheat, rye and spelt. People suffering from celiac disease must not eat gluten as it triggers an immune response in their body, thus resulting in inflammation and damage in the digestive tract.(20)
Moreover, individuals having gluten sensitivity might even experience some negative symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhea, and gas.(21)
So, such people can consume amaranth without any fear. Some other grains which are free of gluten include oats, millets, quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, and brown rice.
It Is Good For Bone Health:
Amaranth is also good for bone health. It contains manganese in it and this is an essential mineral, which plays an important role in bone health.
As per the International Osteoporosis Foundation, it is found that Amaranth is one of the most ancient grains that is, very much crucial for healthy bones. It contains iron, calcium and proteins in it, all of which are very important for bone health.(22) moreover, amaranth also contain vitamin C, which is known to improve the health of our ligaments and even fights against inflammation, and thus benefits in treating inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and gouts.
The rich contain of calcium found in amaranth aids in healing broken bones and also strengthens our bones. According to a study done in 2013, it was stated that one can meet the daily requirements of calcium and several other bone-healthy minerals, such as iron and zinc by consuming amaranth regularly.(23)
All these above mentioned characteristics of amaranth make it a great treatment for osteoarthritis.
Amaranth Is Rich In Proteins:
Among other health benefits of amaranth, is its benefit that comes from the rich amount of protein present in it. One cup of cooked grains of amaranth provides 9 grams of protein. This protein is used by each and every cell in the human body, and is required for building muscle mass as well as for proper digestion. Apart from this, it also helps in neurological function.
One study states how protein can boost the muscle recovery after exercise.(24) There is also one more study that talks about the grain also contain a great amount of amino acids.(25)
Amaranth Strengthens The Heart:
One of the most important health benefits of amaranth is that it strengthens the heart. According to a Russian study, it was stated that the amaranth oil is effective enough in preventing coronary heart diseases. This happens because the oil helps in reducing total concentration of cholesterol.(26) Moreover, amaranth oil even increases the level of poly-unsaturated fatty acids and several other healthy long chain fatty acids from the family of omega-3. This can also offer effective benefits to the patients with hypertension.
One more study published during the year 2003 showed that the grains of amaranth have phytosterols, which offer cholesterol reducing properties to the grain. Apart from this, there are many studies which shows amaranth has also been found to exhibits anti-atherosclerotic effects.
It Might Fight Diabetes:
Diabetic patients can also get enough health benefits from amaranth. Though the grain has got a high glycemic index, it might not be really harmful for diabetic patients.
According to a study, rats which were fed with oil of amaranth or the amaranth grain; have experienced an increased level of insulin and a reduced level in blood sugar.(27)
Though it is essential to have more studies in this regard, however; taking amaranth in moderate amount can really be beneficial for people with diabetes (because it also contains fiber).
Amaranth Is Good For Cancer:
Amaranth is also good for cancer patients. It actually plays an important part in the treatment of cancer. Amaranth builds the health of our body’s healthy cells that might otherwise be destroyed in chemotherapy.
As per a Bangladeshi study, it was found that the amaranth grain exhibits a potential anti-proliferative activity on the various cancerous cells in the body. It actually stops the cancer cells from getting spread in the body.(28)
In addition to this, the grain also contains tocotrienols, or the members of the family of Vitamin E, which are known to have anticancer abilities. Though it is not very much known, it is still believed that these tocotrienol compounds play a crucial role in the prevention as well as treatment of cancer.(29)
It Is Good For Digestive Health:
One of the finest health benefits of amaranth is its benefits towards the digestive health. This is because of the fiber content present in amaranth.(30) It binds to cholesterol present in the digestive system and helps in its excretion. The fiber primarily acts as bile and it pulls out the cholesterol of the stool, which not only helps in improving heart health but also helps in the digestion. It even regulates proper excretion of waste from the body.
Amaranth is also known to treat leaky gut syndrome, where the lining of the gut that prevents the bigger particles of food from passing through becomes inflamed. This results in fatigue, headaches, bloating, and also weight gain. Amaranth works by enhancing the growth of helpful gut bacteria and thus, by healing the leaky gut.
It Enhances The Immunity:
Amaranth is known to contain a great source of lysine which is an essential amino acid that helps in calcium absorption. In addition, it even burns fat and also maintains tendons, bones, cartilage, and skin. The lysine found in the grains of amaranth is also used for treating herpes virus and also cold sores occurring around the mouth. It even acts as a strong immune booster.
There are reports which suggest that unprocessed grains can work wonderfully to improve the immune health, and amaranth grain is one of those grains.(31) The amaranth oil also works greatly for improving immunity, especially in children having allergies.
Amaranth is also known to be packed with zinc, which is a mineral known to enhance the health of our immune system. Zinc plays an important role in the immune systems of the older individuals, who might be more susceptible to various infections.
Taking zinc supplements is associated with an increased number of T-cells, which are known for strengthening the immune system. T-cells are responsible for destroying the invading pathogens.(32)
It Is Beneficial During Pregnancy:
Amaranth is quite beneficial during pregnancy. It is loaded with iron, which is a mineral that plays a crucial role during the pregnancy. It helps in delivering oxygen to the baby and also helps in its development. The folate content in amaranth helps the body to prepare new body cells. It is also important for copying and synthesizing of DNA.
Moreover, it is also known that a deficiency in the folate content can result in neural tube defects in the infants.
It is thus important to take foods rich in folate during pregnancy. It is a fact that fortification of foods along with folate by the FDA had actually cut down the risk of various neural tube defects by about 26%.(33)
Amaranth Combats Anemia:
Amaranth is beneficial in combating anemia. This is because of the rich iron content found in amaranth. This was proved in one study published in Public Health Nutrition, where adding the grains of amaranth to the diets of some Kenyan children has significantly improved their symptoms of anemia.(34)
Amaranth Has Wonderful Eye Health Benefits:
Amaranth is also known for its wonderful eye health benefits. It contains the vitamin A, which improves our vision. This vitamin actually helps in improving vision under poor lighting conditions, and it even prevents night blindness, which can be caused because of a deficiency in the vitamin A.(35)
The leaf of amaranth is loaded with vitamin A, which can even help in enhancing vision.(36)
Skin Health Benefits Of Amaranth:
There are also some excellent skin health benefits of amaranth. Its oil can be used for improving your skin health as it can work as a wonderful cleanser and also prevent premature signs of aging.
You simply need to massage a few drops of the amaranth oil on your face before taking bath.
Hair Health Benefits Of Amaranth:
Amaranth has lysine, or an amino acid that cannot be produced by the body and the amino acid that actually benefits the hair. This amino acid strengthens the hair follicles and also helps in preventing male pattern baldness. Moreover, amaranth is also a rich source of the mineral iron, which also contributes to the hair health. Iron might helps in preventing premature graying.
You simply need to extract the juice from the leaves of amaranth and apply to the hair once you have shampooed them well, and experience the benefits.
From the above descriptions we get to know about some of the best health benefits of amaranth. Apart from the several health benefits that it offers, is the benefit of reducing excess weight and lowering cholesterol levels and inflammation. Moreover, it is quite easy to prepare and can also be added to several dishes, and thus works as a wonderful addition to your daily healthy diet.