Amaranth, Amarante- Grain, Pilewort, Chua
What is Amaranth?
The amaranth is a short lived perennial plant which belongs to the Amaranthaceae family. There are around 60 species which have been identified all over the world which come in a variety of hues such as purple, red and gold. This plant is native to tropical America and grows well in both temperate and tropical climates. It is believed that the grain which is harvested from the plant has been known to man for close to 10,000 years. Historical records show that the Aztecs consumed a huge quantity of the amaranth in their daily diet and would even make sweet treats for children by mixing amaranth grains with honey and molasses. If one were to analyze the history of Mexico, this humble grain would find an important place of prominence, in particular because it was often used in different celebrations to honor the gods as well. Today, the amaranth is cultivated in many countries and also grows well in Asian countries like India and Nepal.
Benefits of Amaranth:
Just like the Aztecs knew the value of the amaranth plant for cooking purposes, even today the grains are used in various ways for consumption purposes. The raw seeds of the plant have a very high protein content and this means that it serves as a wonderful dietary addition for those who are vegetarian or who are vegan. The leaves of this plant, which closely resemble spinach leaves, contain a good amount of vitamin C and can be added after washing to a bowl of green salad for extra crunch. The leaves can also be lightly stir fried and enjoyed in Continental or Oriental dishes. The leaves of the plant are highly medicinal and are used to treat a host of ailments ranging from ulcers to diarrhea to swelling of the throat and mouth. The juice that is extracted comes loaded with carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins and has been found to be highly beneficial in treating heavy bleeding disorders in women and in weight management. The high levels of iron and natural fiber content make it a must-have for those suffering from anemia. The ability of the essential amino acids to fight cells that may become cancerous, is still being studied in detail. For women who are concerned about unnatural hair loss and early greying, amaranth may be the answer to such a problem. Teenagers may find that application of the juice works well on eczema of the skin and troublesome acne problems.
How to consume amaranth:
The seeds of this plant can be used as a safe and healthy substitute for other carb food items such as rice and pasta and can even be used in place of regular oatmeal. If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding amaranth seeds to a dessert you are making or simply add dollops of honey to make a healthy sweet snack. The leaves of the plant can be consumed directly as well or cooked lightly in order to preserve the nutrients. The juice extracted from the leaves can be used for external applications or consumed directly as well.