Amaranth Facts

Amaranth Facts
Amaranth is pseudo-cereal that belongs to the Amaranth family. It originates from Peru. Amaranth was a staple food for Aztecs 6.000 to 8.000 years ago, who also used it in various religious ceremonies. There are around 60 species of amaranth, but only three are commercially important. Amaranth is cultivated in Africa, India, China, Russia and parts of South and North America today. This plant can survive in various climates, but it thrives the best in areas with temperate climate, on the well-drained, loose soil on the higher altitude. People cultivate amaranth as a source of food (seed) and in ornamental purposes. Some species of amaranth, such as pigweed, are classified as weed.
Interesting Amaranth Facts:
Amaranth has erect, bushy stem that can reach few inches to 10 feet in height, depending on the species.
Amaranth produces broad leaves that can be light or dark green, reddish, covered with purple veins or variegated.
Amaranth produces purple, red or golden flowers shaped like miniature grain-like buds.
Amaranth blooms during the summer and autumn. It belongs to a group of self-pollinating plants.
Clusters of densely packed flowers of amaranth transform into large, heavy seed heads. Single plant can produce 60.000 seeds per year. Despite many morphological and nutritional similarities with other cereals, amaranth is not a true grain (that's why it is known as "pseudo-cereal").
Amaranth propagates via seed.
Name "amaranth" is derived from a Greek word "amarantos" which means "everlasting" or "one that does not wither". Name refers to the flower buds of amaranth that retain vivid coloration even after drying.
Amaranth is an excellent source of proteins, dietary fibers, vitamin E, iron, calcium, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Amaranth has better nutritional value than wheat and rice and unlike them, it is also an excellent source of L-lysine, essential amino acid that facilitates absorption of calcium and synthesis of collagen, elastin, hormones and antibodies in the human body.
Amaranth can be ground in flour and used for the preparation of bread or as thickener for soups, sauces and stews. Seeds can be prepared and consumed like rice, as ingredient of granola bars or popped like popcorns.
Leaves of amaranth are also edible and very popular in Asia. They can be consumed stir-fried or as an ingredient of soups.
Popped seeds of amaranth mixed with honey or sugar (usually shaped like a skull) are traditionally consumed during Mexican "Day of the Dead" festival.
Seeds of amaranth are gluten-free and they can be safely consumed by people diagnosed with celiac disease.
Amaranth lowers blood cholesterol level and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disorders, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Amaranth completes its life cycle after one or few years, depending on the species.

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