Amaranth - Overview, History, Benefits, Precaution, Dosage, FAQ
What is amaranth?
Amaranth is a grain belonging to the Amaranthaceae family and is considered a superfood like quinoa. Amaranth contains few allergies and is gluten-free. You might have heard of "Rajgira", yes it is the same which Indian people used during their fasting. Amaranth is known as Rajgira in Hindi, which means raj (royal) & gira (grain). Amaranth grain meaning in Gujarati is also Rajgira. Moreover, amaranth grain in India is also known as 'Ramdana', meaning God's own grain.
Since the sixth century BC, the ancient Aztecs have grown amaranth as a staple crop. Although it is often treated as a "millet" like millet, it is classified as a "pseudo-cereal" because it is not a grain of the grass family. Amaranth has small grains and resembles quinoa before cooking. The texture is very similar to bubble-wrapped fish roe, and the taste is almost tasteless and has no peculiar taste.
History of Amaranth
It is believed that amaranth originated thousands of years ago in Central and South America, where it is still grown today. It is claimed that it was a significant food source for the Aztec culture. Amaranth may be cultivated in a range of regions and soil types since it is resistant to drought and poor soil. Nowadays, it is being reevaluated as a healthy food all over the world, and its cultivation has spread to many countries. It is included in Ayurveda as Satvik food when it comes to India.
Amaranth's Nutritional Content
Let's examine the nutrients that are present in amaranth or rajgira.
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K, which is present in amaranth, is thought to aid with blood clotting. It mostly contributes to the activation of factors in the liver that lead to blood coagulation. Although a typical diet is said to prevent vitamin K shortage, it may be necessary to consciously consume vitamin K to prevent bone fractures and for elderly people.
- Calcium: The most prevalent mineral in the human body is calcium, a type of mineral. Ninety-nine per cent of calcium is found in teeth and bones, which are the primary sites of calcium nutrient formation. Cells, tissue, and blood use the remaining 1%.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus is a type of mineral and is an essential nutrient that forms bones and teeth and is a component of cell membranes and nucleic acids. It also aids in maintaining osmotic pressure and adjusting pH.
- Magnesium: One kind of mineral required for the development of bones, the contraction of muscles, and the transmission of nerve signals is magnesium.
- Folic Acid: Compared to white rice, Amaranth contains 50 times more iron. It is a necessary nutrient for the synthesis of red blood cells, just like iron. Amaranth is high in protein and vitamin B6, which are necessary for the synthesis of haemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells, in addition to iron and folic acid. It can also be argued that this nutrient is particularly significant for foetuses because it has a significant impact on cell division and maturation. Pregnant women who consume enough can lower their fetus's chance of neural tube abnormalities, which are birth disorders.
- Protein: Amaranth is reported to have twice the protein of white rice. It has almost the same calories as white rice.
- Essential Amino Acids: Amaranth has a lot of important amino acids. In particular, the amino acid "lysine" cannot be obtained from bread or white rice.
- Dietary fibre: Dietary fibre comes in two varieties: soluble and insoluble. While insoluble fibres bulk up faeces and encourage intestinal peristalsis, water-soluble fibres break down readily in water and soften stools. Since amaranth contains all of these, it can be expected to be effective in improving constipation.
- Plant Sterol Lysine: Plant sterols are a class of lipids that are thought to be useful in preventing diseases linked to a lifestyle that is caused by reducing bad cholesterol and suppressing the absorption of cholesterol. As said, Lysine is a type of essential amino acid which is present in it. Since the body is unable to synthesise essential amino acids, they must be acquired from food. It should have the effect of promoting concentration and helping the body recover from exhaustion because it is a nutrient that powers the brain. Additionally, it can generate keratin, the protein that builds up skin and hair.
- Gluten-Free: The term "gluten" refers to the proteins found in grains including barley, rye, and wheat. Amaranth is a gluten-free grain. You can consume it with confidence even if you are allergic to gluten.
Why is it called a superfood?
The high nutritious content of amaranth is the reason it's referred to as a superfood. Amaranth is great for vegetarians and vegans because it is abundant in calcium and minerals and a good source of vegetable protein. It is expected that its high antioxidant content will inhibit the body's use of active oxygen and delay the ageing process of cells. Because of these properties, amaranth is attracting attention from health-conscious people as a highly nutritious superfood.
Difference Between Quinoa & Amaranth
Quinoa is also highly nutritious and has been recognized by NASA as a "staple food of the 21st century." The fruit part of both amaranth and quinoa is mainly eaten, and both have a granular, light yellow appearance, and both have a chewy or chewy texture. So, what is the main difference between quinoa and amaranth?
It's all about the size of the seeds. Quinoa has a diameter of approximately 2 mm, whereas amaranth has a somewhat smaller diameter of approximately 1 mm. Despite its diminutive size, amaranth is higher in nutrients than quinoa. Conversely, quinoa's big grains make it easy to absorb water and keep you full, but its nutritional value is slightly lower than that of amaranth.
Benefits of Amaranth
Amaranth offers several health benefits. We will discuss the impacts of amaranth below.
Improve Constipation: Due to its high dietary fibre content, amaranth is particularly beneficial for relieving constipation. Dietary fibre helps with bowel movements by retaining water in the intestines and enhancing the volume and flexibility of stool. Furthermore, the dietary fibre in amaranth promotes the formation of beneficial bacteria and regulates the flora in the digestive system. This will aid in digestion and could be useful in treating gas and discomfort in the intestines to prevent constipation.
Improve Immunity: Amaranth is rich in nutrients that help improve immunity. In particular, antioxidants like iron and vitamin E, are crucial for boosting immunity and shielding the body from infections. Furthermore, it's been suggested that the zinc in amaranth helps immune cells proliferate and operate, which could strengthen your body's defences against infections and colds.
Beautiful Skin Effect: Amaranth is rich in nutrients that contribute to beautiful skin. Specifically, vitamin E exhibits potent antioxidant properties, which protect skin cells from active oxygen and are said to be effective in preventing early ageing.
Heart-Healthy Benefits: Research indicates that amaranth may lower blood pressure and cholesterol, among other heart-healthy effects. Amaranth has possible cardiovascular benefits and promotes heart health since it contains bioactive peptides and other substances.
Improve Bone Health: Amaranth is an excellent source of calcium, a necessary element for strong bones. Sufficient consumption of calcium is crucial for maintaining strong and healthy bones. Amaranth offers a plant-based substitute for dairy products for those seeking to increase their calcium intake.
Antioxidants-Rich: Loaded with antioxidants, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, amaranth aids in the body's fight against oxidative stress. Free radicals are combated by antioxidants, which promote cellular health and may reduce the risk of chronic illnesses.
Weight Control: Amaranth's high fibre content helps with weight management by encouraging fullness. In addition to lowering total calorie consumption and promoting healthy weight reduction or maintenance, fibre also helps with feelings of fullness.
How To Grow Amaranth
If you are interested in growing your amaranth, then keep reading.
- Location/Soil: Amaranth prefers a sunny spot that has enough drainage. Commercial potting soil is suitable for growing potted amaranth without any issues.
- Watering: Amaranth grown in the garden is left to the rainfall. If it stays dry, kindly give it a lot of water. Water a potted amaranth thoroughly until the water flows out of the bottom of the pot when the dirt starts to turn white and dry. A
- Fertiliser: Be sure to add fertiliser at the time of planting. No fertiliser is required after that.
- Pest Issues: It may be damaged by armyworm. Make sure to inspect the undersides of the leaves as well, as they deposit their eggs there. As soon as you discover them, please kill them.
Amaranth, a nutritious pseudo-grain, offers an array of health benefits. There's no set amount of amaranth to take every day, but adding it to your diet can improve your health. Try to consume between half and 1 cup of cooked amaranth per day. You can make amaranth as a side dish, add it to soups, or use it as a base for salads to include amaranth in your diet. Try out several recipes to discover tasty ways to incorporate amaranth into your diet so you may enjoy its nutritional advantages as part of a well-rounded diet. For individualised advice, speak with a healthcare provider or nutritionist as each person has different nutritional requirements.
While amaranth is a nutritious addition to a well-balanced diet, there are certain precautions to consider for optimal health:
- Oxalates: Amaranth contains oxalates, compounds that can contribute to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals. It is best to restrict your amaranth intake and seek medical advice if you have a history of kidney stones.
- Saponins: Amaranth is a plant that includes saponins, which are organic substances that can hinder the absorption of nutrients and cause gastrointestinal problems in certain people. Amaranth can have its saponin level lowered by rinsing or soaking it before cooking.
- Allergies: Although rare, amaranth allergies can occur in some people. See a doctor right away if you suffer any adverse reactions, including breathing difficulties, swelling, or itching.
- Anti-Nutrients: Amaranth has anti-nutrients such as tannins and phytates, just like a lot of grains and seeds. These substances can bind to minerals and decrease absorption. The anti-nutrient effects of amaranth can be lessened by cooking, soaking, or fermenting it.
- Balanced Diet: Although amaranth is high in nutrients, it's important to eat a range of meals to guarantee that you're getting all the nutrients you need. Instead of depending only on amaranth, include it in a variety of foods.
- Consultation: It's advisable to speak with a licensed dietician or other healthcare professional if you have any specific health issues. They can offer tailored guidance according to your particular medical requirements.
By being mindful of these precautions and incorporating amaranth in moderation as part of a varied and balanced diet, you can enjoy its nutritional benefits while minimising potential risks.
Here are two recipes that will help you include amaranth in your everyday diet.
- Salad with amaranth: Boiled amaranth leaves add a chewy texture and nutrition to the salad. For a nutritious dish, drizzle your preferred dressing over it.
- Smoothie with amaranth: An amaranth smoothie is a wholesome and nourishing beverage. Blending it with your preferred fruits, like bananas and berries, will allow you to enjoy it.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) On Amaranth
How should amaranth be stored?
Although amaranth may essentially be kept at room temperature, it is advisable to store it out of direct sunlight in a cool, dark area.
How long does amaranth last in storage?
The shelf life is approximately one year for products that have not been opened and three months for products that have been opened. Try to consume it as soon as it's opened.
How many calories and how much sugar does amaranth contain?
Less than 9g of carbs and 358kcal are found in 100g of amaranth.
Regarding consumption of amaranth during pregnancy?
It is recommended as a meal during pregnancy as it contains many nutrients that are easily deficient during pregnancy.
What amount of amaranth should one consume each day?
Because amaranth is high in dietary fibre, it is recommended to keep your consumption of it to no more than 100g per day.
Is amaranth safe to feed to babies?
Amaranth can be given to babies during the weaning period. But since amaranth is hard, try combining it with white rice or other soft-cooked multigrain rice and serving it while monitoring it.
Which nutrients are present in amaranth?
Amaranth is high in calcium, iron, and other minerals, as well as protein and dietary fibre. Specifically, protein is a great plant-based food because it has a solid mix of important amino acids. Additionally, it has vitamins like E and B vitamins.
What are the effects of amaranth?
Because of its antioxidant qualities, amaranth is supposed to provide advantages like reducing constipation, influencing the diet, boosting immunity, and preserving youthful-looking skin.
What is the recommended amount of amaranth per day?
While everyone's daily consumption of amaranth differs, a basic recommendation is one to two tablespoons. Indigestion might result from consuming amaranth in excess. Additionally, since water has a high dietary fibre content, remember to drink plenty of it.
What does amaranth taste like?
Amaranth has a taste that is almost absent and has a texture similar to bubble wrap.
How should Amaranth be prepared?
Be sure to heat amaranth before eating. If you eat it as is, it will be difficult to digest. We recommend soaking amaranth in water and then cooking it in a rice cooker, or boiling it before using it for cooking. When boiling, drain the water using a tea strainer or fine-mesh colander. Amaranth is small and may run off.
How long is the shelf life of amaranth?
When dried amaranth is kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, it can be kept for a very long period. Foods that have been cooked or boiled can be kept in the freezer for two weeks, one month, or two to three days in the refrigerator.
What is the Indian name for amaranth?
The Indian name for amaranth is "Rajgira" or "Ramdana." It is commonly used in various dishes and is particularly popular during religious fasting periods in India.
What are the benefits of eating amaranth?
Eating amaranth provides numerous benefits. It's a rich source of protein, fibre, and essential nutrients like iron and calcium. Amaranth supports heart health, aids digestion, and may help manage weight. It also contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, contributing to overall well-being and a healthy immune system.
Why do people eat amaranth?
People eat amaranth for various reasons. It is a nutrient-dense, gluten-free grain that provides essential vitamins and minerals. Amaranth is valued for its high protein content, making it a suitable plant-based protein source. Additionally, it offers dietary fibre, antioxidants, and potential health benefits, contributing to a balanced and nutritious diet.
Are Rajgira and Amaranth the same?
Yes, Rajgira and Amaranth refer to the same grain. Rajgira is the Hindi name for amaranth, and both terms are often used interchangeably to describe this nutritious and gluten-free pseudo-cereal.
Can Rajgira be consumed every day?
Yes, Rajgira (amaranth) can be consumed every day. It is a nutritious and gluten-free grain that is rich in protein, fibre, and various essential nutrients. Including it in your daily diet can provide numerous health benefits.
Which is better, Rajgira or quinoa?
Both Rajgira (amaranth) and quinoa are nutritious grains, and the choice between them depends on individual preferences and dietary needs. Rajgira is a good source of protein, fibre, and essential nutrients, while quinoa is known for its complete protein profile and versatility. Both can be part of a healthy diet.
What is amaranth flour?
Amaranth flour is a gluten-free flour made from the seeds of the amaranth plant. It is rich in protein, fibre, and nutrients.
Is amaranth a millet?
Amaranth is not a millet. It is a pseudocereal, meaning it is a non-grass plant that is used in the same way as cereals.
Is Amaranth gluten-free?
Yes, amaranth is gluten-free, making it suitable for individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
What is rajgira?
Rajgira is the Hindi name for amaranth.
What is rajgira atta?
Rajgira atta is flour made from amaranth seeds.
Is rajgira a millet?
Rajgira is not a millet; it belongs to the family Amaranthaceae.
Is rajgira good for weight loss?
Rajgira is beneficial for weight loss as it is high in protein and fibre, providing a sense of fullness.
Can we eat rajgira fast?
Yes, rajgira can be eaten during fasting periods as it is often used in vrat (fasting) recipes.
Is rajgira ladoo good for weight loss?
Rajgira ladoo can be a healthy option for weight loss when consumed in moderation due to its nutritional content.
Is rajgira good for health?
Rajgira is good for health due to its rich nutritional profile, providing essential nutrients like protein, fibre, and vitamins.
How to make rajgira laddu?
To make rajgira laddu, mix rajgira flour, jaggery, ghee, and nuts; form into small balls, and allow them to set.