Amaranth (Bulk)

Amaranth (Bulk)

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Amaranth has been cultivated as a grain for 8,000 years, and classified as a pseudocereal; it is grown for its edible starchy seeds, but it is not in the same family as true cereals such as wheat and rice. Amaranth species that are still used as a grain are Amaranthus caudatus, Amaranthus cruentus, and Amaranthus hypochondriacus. The yield of grain Amaranth is comparable to rice or maize.

What is Amaranth ?

Amaranthus, collectively known as Amaranth, is a cosmopolitan genus of annual or short-lived perennial plants. Some amaranth species are cultivated as leaf vegetables, pseudocereals, and ornamental plants. Most of the Amaranthus species are summer annual weeds and are commonly referred to as pigweed. Catkin-like cymes of densely packed flowers grow in summer or autumn. Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple, through red and green to gold. Members of this genus share many characteristics and uses with members of the closely related genus Celosia.

"Amaranth" derives from Greek ἀμάραντος (amárantos), "unfading", with the Greek word for "flower", ἄνθος (ánthos), factoring into the word's development as amaranth. Amarant is an archaic variant.

Amaranth has been cultivated as a grain for 8,000 years, and classified as a pseudocereal; it is grown for its edible starchy seeds, but it is not in the same family as true cereals such as wheat and rice. Amaranth species that are still used as a grain are Amaranthus caudatus, Amaranthus cruentus, and Amaranthus hypochondriacus. The yield of grain Amaranth is comparable to rice or maize.

It was a staple food of the Aztecs and an integral part of Aztec religious ceremonies. The cultivation of amaranth was banned by the conquistadores upon their conquest of the Aztec nation. However, the plant has grown as a weed since then, so its genetic base has been largely maintained. Research on grain Amaranth began in the United States in the 1970s. By the end of the 1970s, a few thousand acres were being cultivated.

Much of the grain currently grown is sold in health food shops. Grain Amaranth is also grown as a food crop in limited amounts in Mexico, where it is used to make a candy called alegría (Spanish for joy) at festival times. The grain can be popped and mixed with honey, or served with milk, dried fruit and nuts, like a cold breakfast cereal.

Amaranth grain can also be used to extract amaranth oil, a pressed seed oil with commercial uses. Raw Amaranth grain is inedible to humans and cannot be digested because it blocks the absorption of nutrients. Thus it has to be prepared and cooked like other grains. In a 100 gram amount, cooked amaranth provides 103 Calories and is a moderate–rich source of dietary minerals, including phosphorus, manganese, and iron. Cooked amaranth is 75% water, 19% carbohydrates, 4% protein, and 2% fat (table).

According to Educational Concerns For Hunger Organization (ECHO), amaranth contains anti-nutritional factors, including oxalates, nitrates, saponins, and phenolic compounds. Cooking methods such as boiling amaranth in water and then discarding the water may reduce toxic effects.

Amaranth grain is high in protein and lysine, an amino acid found in low quantities in other grains. Amaranth grain is deficient in essential amino acids such as leucine and threonine – both of which are present in wheat germ. Amaranth grain is free of gluten, which makes it a viable grain for people with gluten intolerance.

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