Amaranth is a grain which is of late gaining the kind of publicity it rightly deserves, this grain was cultivated in the ancient times in the Aztec Empire and was consumed due to its health benefits. Interestingly, it is not a standard or average grain, thus, does not have many of the problems connected with wheat and rice.
Some of the unique benefits associated with Amaranth are:
- Since it is not a regular grain like wheat so it can be consumed during any kind of Hindu traditional fasts. It can be made as a porridge with milk and is quite delicious when consumed this way
- It is a very rich source of an amino acid lysine (amino acids are the building blocks of proteins). Being rich in lysine, it is an excellent source of protein for all age groups as carbohydrate-rich foods like wheat atta and potatoes do not contain enough lysine. Another aspect of protein in Amaranth is that it is easily digestible across all age groups, making it a very useful protein source for elderly people, babies and people who are unable to digest heavier proteins like paneer, tofu and sprouts.
- It is also an excellent source of minerals as it has calcium, iron and magnesium. These minerals are very important for the body and especially the bones because they are are required for their mineralization and makes them strong.
- Amaranth leaves are popularly called “Chulai ka Saag” in India. It is can be cooked as a vegetable and is rich in minerals.
- Another aspect of Amaranth is that it is rich in a special kind of oil, which has the beneficial properties of improving immunity making amaranth excellent for the children who may be suffering from allergies, in particular, wheat allergies.
- Amaranth is excellent for the patients who have any kind of inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis and also any kind of skin disorders. The reason is that amaranth has the alkaline value which is greater than other grains. Also, amaranth is more organic as a lot of fertilisers are not used for the cultivation of this grain
- For children and grown ups who have been diagnosed as gluten intolerant amaranth can be a boon as it has been seen that replacing amaranth with wheat helps within a week and decreases the symptoms of wheat intolerance like, bloating on the face, weight gain, a groaning stomach, fatigue and tiredness all the time, Sinusitis, sneezing and allergies.
- Heart patients and people with high cholesterol, can really benefit from the consumption of Amaranth as it can help to reduce the inflammation in the arteries, normalising Blood pressure.
Methods to Consume Amaranth:
- The best way to consume is to soak it for some time and then make it into a salted porridge with a lot of vegetables like carrots, beans, onion etc.
- Another convenient way is to soak it and follow up by cooking with milk, instead of adding sugar one can add dried fruits like prunes and dried apples, seeds like sunflower seeds and nuts like almonds and pine nuts.
As published in Hindustan Times Brunch
Dr Shikha Sharma tells a few more benefits of Amaranth