Is Amaranth Nature’s Perfect Food?

Is Amaranth Nature’s Perfect Food?

 Nature’s Perfect Food – Amaranth

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Amaranth is a highly productive grain which was revered for centuries by ancient cultures, and in more recent times, its reputation has since spread across the planet.  Amaranth is one such food cultivated by nature to be highly nutritious, versatile, and chocked full of health benefits for both physical and mental well being.

Amaranth is one of the most nutritious, easy-to-grow and well-adapted, eatable grain foods on the planet. It also is visually spectacular looking.  Amaranth grows to head-high or taller in an array of gorgeous colors and shapes, and it can provide year-round sustenance.

Amaranth is a nature made wonder food, something you should be adding to your diet today.

What Is Amaranth?

Amaranth, or amaranthus, refers to over 60 species of tall, green plants that sport vibrant purple, red, or gold flowers.  Its name comes from the Greek ‘amarantos’ which means ‘unfading’ or ‘one that does not fade.’

Cultivated by the Aztecs over 8,000 years ago, it is still a native crop in Peru.  The history of amaranth can be traced to Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula.

This plant certainly lives up to its name for the flowers are as vibrant and beautiful as ever, even after they have been harvested and dried.  Often found as a beautiful member of lovely gardens, amaranth has been around for centuries.  It was a staple for the Aztec Empire and was used for both food and ceremonial reasons.

The leaves are high in protein, as well as beta carotene, iron, calcium and fiber.  All this nutrition and flavor comes from a plant that requires very little water, and can be grown in almost any type of soil.

While it is commonly thought of as a cereal grain, amaranth is not exactly a “true” whole grain.  However, thanks to its glowing nutrient profile, it is often lumped together with other cereals due to its versatility.

Harvesting Amaranth Grain Video

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Amaranth Health Benefits

It’s Full of Vitamins and Minerals:  There is a long and winding list of health benefits found in amaranth that do wonders for the body. Amaranth contains over three times the average amount of calcium than most plant foods and is also a great source of potassium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium.

These nutrients are important for regulating your appetite, building strong bones, cleansing, and oxygenating the blood, and a host of other housekeeping functions for bodily systems.  This is also the only grain that has been shown to contain vitamin C, which is well known for boosting the immune system and aiding in the fight against disease and illnesses.

It’s An Excellent Source of Protein:  Amaranth is also an excellent source of protein.  It contains much more protein than most other grains and contains lysine, which is an amino acid often missing from whole grains.  When added to a diet, amaranth offers boosted energy levels and promotes bowel regularity and a healthy metabolism.

It also contains lunasin, a peptide that was previously identified in soybeans and was thought to help prevent cancer as well as reduce inflammation that is present with certain chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

It Promotes Heart Health:  Studies have shown that amaranth is a whole grain that can potentially lower cholesterol effective.  Through various studies conducted over the last decade, findings have shown that, when fed to chickens, the amount of bad cholesterol in the body was lowered significantly.

This study was duplicated in Canada, the U.S., and Russia, and each study offered similar results.  While promising, whether or not amaranth will have the same effect on human’s remains to be seen.  However, it can’t hurt to add this to your daily heart-healthy regimen.

It’s Gluten-Free:  Today, gluten-free diets are extremely popular.  People with Celiac disease must follow a gluten-free diet, but those without Celiac disease have also found amaranth to be a healthy option in their lives.

Many find that cutting out gluten makes them feel better, lighter, and more alert.  Luckily, adding amaranth to your gluten-free diet is easy, and it can be used as a great substitute for other grains used in dough to increase elasticity and allow for leavening.

Make Amaranth A Part Of Your Healthy Lifestyle

For centuries, amaranth has been used by humans for a number of different reasons.  In addition to the listed health benefits, just about every part of the plant can be used for something.

The seeds are an excellent source of protein and is easy to cook, and the seed flour is ideal for healthy baked goods.

The leaves, roots, and stems are also consumed as leafy veggies in many parts of the world and used for cooking and various dishes.  They can be steamed, mashed, or simply seasoned and added to a favorite dish.

In addition to being used as food, the amaranth plant is also used for aesthetic reasons.  The gorgeous flowers of this plant have been widely used for dyes—specifically as a source of a deep red dye that comes from the flowers.

Amaranth is also used for ornamental reasons in gardens or in homes and is grown for both its beauty and its many uses.

Amaranth Recipes

A bowl of warm amaranth cereal makes a tasty alternative to oatmeal.

You can cook amaranth in chicken or vegetable stock instead of water for a savory side dish or stir-fry base.

It’s great at absorbing the flavors of other ingredients.

Amaranth seeds can be popped like popcorn on your stove top, resulting in small, crunchy puffs that make a terrific addition to trail mix.  Toss with nuts and dried fruit for a multi-textured treat, or sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese and rosemary for a healthy, and savory, amaranth snack.

Start Adding Some Variety to Your Vegetarian Lifestyle

Try Adding some Variety to your Vegetarian Lifestyle

When you’re planning a healthy vegetarian diet, you’re only limited by your imagination.  It’s important to incorporate a wide variety of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits in different meals, including seeds and nuts.

Variety is the spice of life, and it will help ensure your vegetarian diet is nutrient-dense, interesting, and fun!  Aim for variety, even when you serve favorite entrees over and over again, by serving different side dishes, snacks and desserts.

Be creative in planning meals

Boost your consumption of beans and vegetables by eating these foods at lunch time rather than just for dinner.  Make it a goal to serve a vegetable every day for lunch and two for dinner. Plan a meal around a vegetable.

A baked potato can be a hearty entree; serve it with baked beans, a sauce of stewed tomatoes or a few tablespoons of salsa.  Or make a simple meal of sautéed vegetables and pasta.

Try new foods often

Experiment with a variety of grains such as quinoa, couscous, bulgur, barley, and wheat berries. Try fruits and vegetables that are popular in different international cuisines, such as bok choy. Accentuate the positive. Focus more on healthy foods that fit into a vegetarian plan instead of foods to avoid.

If you’re unsure how to include a new food into your vegetarian diet, ask the produce manager at your local grocer or health food store for ideas on how to prepare it. The internet can be a great resource for new recipe and preparation ideas.

But be sure that you’re building your menu on a strong plant food base. Make them the core of your vegetarian diet.

Why I Became Vegetarian

 

Don’t stress about getting enough protein

As long as calories are sufficient and the diet is varied, vegetarians easily meet protein needs. Grains, beans, vegetables, and nuts all provide protein. Vegetarians do not need to eat special combinations of foods to meet protein needs.  However, it is important to be aware of fat.  Even vegetarians can get too much fat if the diet contains large amounts of nuts, oils, processed foods, or sweets.

Lazy Vegetarians Who Choose the Wrong Carbs Risk Health

We’ve all been there.  We’ve just come in from a long day at work and the last thing on our minds taking the time to prepare a healthy, nutritionally sound vegetarian meal.

But choosing a refined or enriched carbohydrate over the beneficial carbohydrates that a solid, well-balanced vegetarian diet offers defeats the purpose of your decision to live a vegetarian lifestyle, and that’s for optimal health.

Consuming refined carbohydrates presents different hazards to your health.

The over-consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars can result in excess insulin in the bloodstream.

In the presence of excess insulin, glucose, the blood sugar, is converted to triglycerides and stored in the fat cells of the body.

According to one study, consuming refined grains may also increase your risk of getting stomach cancer.  The research found that a high intake of refined grains could increase a patient’s risk of stomach cancer.

In addition, refined sugars and carbohydrates have been implicated as a contributing factor in increased gallbladder disease, according to a recent study.  It showed a direct link between the amount of sugars eaten and the incidence of gallbladder disease.

Another study looked at the role carbohydrates play in the incidence of heart disease.  The researchers noted that as carbohydrate consumption increased, so did the level of triglycerides in the blood of the participants.

Diets low in fat and high in carbohydrates not only dramatically raised triglyceride levels but significantly reduced levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol.

And lastly, refined white sugars increase the rate at which your body excretes calcium, which is directly connected to your skeletal health. Simply put, as your sugary and refined carbohydrate intake increases, your bone density decreases.

So don’t be lazy!  Do your body right and take the time to prepare a nutrient-dense and delicious vegetarian meal.  Your body, and your conscience, will thank you for it in the long run.

Transitioning To A Vegetarian Family

If you’re considering moving to a vegetarian diet as an adult, you probably want to pass on this good nutrition and improved way of eating to your family as well. In fact, it’s your responsibility as a parent to nurture your children and help them develop physically, mentally and spiritually.

But that can be hard to do, especially in a culture where our children are bombarded with messages from fast food restaurants in the media. How do you teach kids to resist the siren song of Ronald McDonald?

There isn’t a plate of vegetables on the planet that’s going to look as good to them as a Happy Meal!

You have to start slowly to change not only your own eating patterns, but your family’s as well.  Like any other dietary endeavor, it starts at the grocery store.  Begin stocking the refrigerator with healthy snacks like apples and carrots.

Exchange good, chewy brown rice for white rice and processed side dishes, which are so high in fat and sodium.  Make meat portions smaller and smaller and start incorporating more vegetables and grains in your family dinners.

Don’t make changes all at once.  If you do give in and stop at a fast food restaurant, get fruit or yogurt in addition to or part of that meal. Make the changes so gradual that they’ll never notice their diets are changing.

Kids are usually very sympathetic about animals, and it’s not too early to talk to them about eating in a way that isn’t cruel to animals.

You’ll be doing them a favor that will last them a lifetime.  With childhood obesity at epidemic levels in the U.S., you will be setting up your children for lifelong eating vegetarian habits that will help ensure a long and healthy life.

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