Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Amaranth…The Why

So now that you know what amaranth is, why should you care…what is the nutritional benefit…why should you add amaranth to your diet…why is amaranth considered a superfood?

Amaranth is a “relative” of other extremely healthy foods that you probbly already have added to your diet, possibly from birth—such as beets, spinach, and quinoa,

Amaranth is a great source of protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.

Let’s look at the nutrients that amaranth provides…

 

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The Numbers—Key Nutrients

Based on one cup serving of amaranth, here are some important uumbers…

Calcium...112% DV…116 mg…The calcium that can be found in amaranth is important for bone repair and strength. Not getting enough calcium in your diet causes your bones to become weak and pliable….increasing your risk of breaking a bone and developing osteoporosis.

Fiber…20% DV…Amaranth contains more fiber than any other gluten-free grain, even more than superfoods such as quinoa. The fiber in amaranth is good for your digestive system….(need I elaborate…fill in the blanks yourself)…

 

Folate…14%DV…54.1 mg…The folate in amaranth helps the body copy and synthesize DNA, which is especially important for pregnant women, because a folate deficiency can keep the growing baby’s cell from growing properly…possibly resulting in  birth defects as spina bifida or causing heart and limb malformations.

 

 

Manganese …105$ DV….This is over 100$ DV of manganese,…Maganese is especially important for diabetics because it helps reduce high blood sugar levels by helping your body converrt amino acids into sugar and maintain the balance of sugar within the bloodstream.

Protein…The protein found in amaranth is important for…
  • aiding in digestion
  • building muscle mass
  • controlling mood swings
  • decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage
  • helping to naturally balance hormones
  • making you feel full quicker and requiring more work for the body to digest than fast-acting refined carbs
  • preventing weight gain by
  • supporting neurological function

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Other Nutrients

  • Caroohydrates….48 grams
  • Copper…18%DV…0.4 mg
  • Far… 3.9 grams
  • Iron…25%DV …5.2mg
  • Magnesium…40% DV…160mg
  • Phosphorous…36%DVC…364mg
  • Potassium…9% DV…352 Mg
  • Selemium…19% DV…13.5mg
  • Vitamin B6…14% DV…0.3mg
  •  Zinc…14%…2.1 mg

 

 

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Other Health-Related Issues

In addition to all of these nutrients, amaranth also provides each of the he nine essential amino acids and aantioxidants.

Now let’s look at what all of these nutrients mean as far as your health…your muscles, bone, and skin…your cardiovascular health…your mmune system.

1. Controlling Cholesterol Levels…Amaranth is a considered a cholesterol-lowering food…having been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol…even by up to 50%.

2.  Controlling :Your Weight…Amaranth can help you maintain your goal weight for many reasons, including…

  • amaranth strengthens your bones, which means that you can exercise without having to worry so much about breaking a bone
  • fiber found in amarant keeps your digestive system regulated and reduces inflammation
  • high levels of lysine, an amino acid, helps your body produce carnitine, a nutrient that is important for converting fatty acids into energy and helping lower cholesterol
  • protein keeps you full longer and increases endurance levels

3. Dealing with Gluten Sensitivity…Many people are either allergic or sensitive to gluten, the protein found in wheat…but amaranth is gluten-free. Problems associated with gluten could include…

  • arthritis
  • bone and joint pain
  • celiac’s disease
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • infertility
  • miscarraige
  • poor memory.
  • skin rashes

4. Keeping Your Bones Healthy…The calcium that can be found in amaranth is important for bone repair and strength. Not getting enough calcium in your diet causes your bones to become weak and pliable….increasing your risk of breaking a bone and developing osteoporosis.

5. Reducing Inflammation…Inflammation is caused by the accumulation of dietary and environmental toxins in the body…making your immune system so overworked and weak that it can no longer defend  body tissues against damaging defense cells and hormones.

Inflammation is associated with just about every health condition, including…

  • leaky gut syndrome
  • arthritis
  • fibermyalgia
  • irritable bowel disease
  • gout

Amaranth helps reduce this inflammation.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Amaranth…The What

The other day as I was making my sandwich for lunch, I noticed that my bread was called “Ancient Grain”…I thought to myself, wonder what that means…hope it doesn’t mean that my bread has been around since ancient times…if that were the case, the bread would probably be stale…and the sandwich would probably make me sick.

So as I did research on out next cooking method—boiling—I found that one of the most commonly boiled foods are grains and have decided to explore this topic of “ancient grains” and grains in general for a while….beginning with amaranth.

 

 

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Ancient Grains

Ancient grains are those grains that existed thousands of years and continue to thrive today….such as amaranth…which has been cultiivaed as far back aa 8,000 years ago.

Aramanth was originally harvested in Mexico and was in fact the central staple of the Aztec empire…possibly making up to 80% of the calories in their regular diets.

 

 

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The Aztecs

The Aztec people  used amaranth for medicinal purposes….believing the grain to had healing powers.

Amaranth also played a significant role in their culture.

They even held an annual festival each December. This festival was a tribute to their god Huitzilopochtli. The Aztecs would prepare for this festival by decorating their homes and trees with paper flags and fasting. The people prepared for the whole month of December, probably like many of us do each December now to pay homage to our God.

During the festival they would sing songs…offer up prayers to this god…and eventually end  the festival  by offering a human sacrifices.

Not only that…they would also make statues of this god out of amaranth seeds and honey….eventually cutting this statue into small pieces and eating it once the feast was over.

In fact, even the name of the grain has religious importance…having been derived from either the Greek word amarantos, meaning “one that does not wither,” or “the never-fading.” …or the Hindi word Amar which translates to the the word “immortal.”

This all took place until the sixteenth century when Cortez “discovered” the Aztec civilization and  Spaniards began moving into the land The Spanish immigrans of this  “Spanish conquest” began fervently,  and often forcefully, trying to convert the Aztecs to Christianity.

They declared any  foods that had previously been involved in “heathen” festivals and religious ceremonies of the Aztec people—such as amaranth—as illegal…burning most of the amaranth plants and heavily punishng anyone caught with the grain.

After this Spanish Conquest, the grain almost went into extinction, but complete eradication of amaranth proved impossible. The seeds from the amaranth plant have in fact spread around the world.

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Amaranth and Your Own Diet

Amaranth has a sweet and nutty taste.

Technically amaranth is not actually a grain at all, but a seed

As far as nutritional value, amaranth is a gluten-free grain that is one of the best protein sources for vegans. Amaranth also contains high amounts of many important amino acids, minerals, and vitamins

Let’s now look more closely at the nutritional value of amaranth….and why the Aztecs believed that amaranth had healing powers…and then we will see how amaranth is a common ingredient in many dishes in the following countries—Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, China, Russia, India, and Nepal,.