Amaranth the best vegetable superfood
Amaranth the best vegetable superfood
Less known than quinoa, amaranth, this other "little seed of the Incas", nevertheless deserves to go into the frying pan because it is a real concentrate of nutrients. Zoom in on all of its health benefits.
What is amaranth
Delicious amaranth... The "immortal" - according to its Greek etymology - is a cereal from the Americas, cultivated mainly in Mexico. Mixed with curd cheese and honey, blended with fresh fruit juices... This little morsel not only delights the taste buds, but is also full of beneficial properties for the organism.
Where does amaranth come from?
Amaranth is a plant native to Central America. There are hundreds of varieties: some are cultivated for their seeds, others for their leaves (which are eaten like spinach), while those that grow wild in the fields are pulled as a "weed".
The seeds are not part of the cereal family, although they are eaten as such. They were part of the diet of pre-Columbian populations, before being forgotten.
It is interesting for vegetarians and for all those who want to reduce their meat consumption, because it is a good source of protein (15% on average), especially lysine, an essential amino acid that is often lacking in cereals" It is also rich in iron. But iron from plants is less well absorbed than iron from animals.
It is therefore best to combine amaranth with foods rich in vitamin C (lemon juice, parsley, pepper, cabbage, etc.), which will enhance its assimilation. Another advantage: it is a very digestible seed and is suitable for people who are gluten intolerant.
Properties of quinoa and amaranth
Quinoa and amaranth have many points in common: they are rich in quality proteins, are gluten-free, have a good content of various minerals (magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc...). "Amaranth is slightly higher in fibre, up to 10% of which is crucial for the health of the endocrine system, glucose regulation and also the prevention of colorectal cancer.
How to cook amaranth
The seeds are very small and can be cooked for 20 to 30 minutes in twice their volume of water. The texture, a bit sticky, is not to everyone's taste, but they can be used in gratins, cakes, flans...
How to eat amaranth
More fun: heat them in a frying pan with a lid so that they pop and make "popcorn". The flour can replace 25% of the wheat flour in cakes and make them soft. Combined with other flours (rice, maize), it can be used to make gluten-free breads and biscuits.
The flakes can be used to make porridge and mueslis.
Note also that amaranth leaves are eaten fresh, like spinach, before the plant flowers. It can be cooked like millet.
amaranth what is amaranth?
From the amaranth family, the amaranth plant can grow up to 3 m tall. This very adaptable annual herbaceous plant has many red flowers that grow in erect or drooping spikes. They contain small seeds that are used in the production of cereals, flour, traditional confectionery and other food products.
Its richness in protein has made the "siempreviva" one of the main foods of the Mayan culture along with maize, beans and chaya. In fact, the Mayas already boiled the leaves of this plant, which are very rich in iron. They also roasted the seeds (like popcorn) or ground them to make flour.
After a late recovery, today it is the seed that is mainly consumed in Mexico, in the form of confectionery or as a cereal that is easily found in supermarkets at a very affordable price, in the same way as muesli or oat flakes.
Some amaranths are also grown in Spain, often as ornamental plants for their foliage and flowers.
However, very few farmers produce them in Spain because, although climatic conditions are favourable for their cultivation throughout the country, their yields are lower than those of traditional cereals, and the demand is not there.... because of a lack of knowledge of the virtues of this plant!
The amaranth plant
Among all the varieties of amaranth, the reflexed amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus) is famous in the agricultural environment of North America, but also in Europe, where the plant has become naturalised because it is resistant to glyphosate, a herbicide widely used in particular in genetically modified crops.
Amaranth benefits and contraindications
the best plant-based food
Amaranth is very rich in protein, iron and calcium. It is excellent for preventing diabetes. It also has many other virtues, to such an extent that the US National Academy of Sciences has named it as one of the best plant foods in the world.