With impressive health benefits, amaranth has been praised for centuries for its nutritional qualities. Here’s what you need to know about this gluten-free superfood plant.
A staple grain in many cultures – with origins traced back to pre-Columbian Aztecs – and eaten for centuries across the world, the amaranth plant has a two-fold offering – the seed and the leaf. These offer a variety of nutritive elements. The first, and more commonly used part of the amaranth plant, is the seed, also referred to as the grain (although not technically one), which can be likened to quinoa and prepared in a similar way (aka, cooked in boiling water or popped like popcorn). The second is the leaf, which is similar in nutritional value and texture to that of spinach, beets and Swiss chard.
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, amaranth might work as the perfect protein boost as it is known to have 30% more protein than other grains. A study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition states that, “the amaranth protein is among the highest in nutritive quality of vegetable origin and close to those of animal origin products.” This superfood seed is also incredibly high in fibre as well as being gluten-free. Research conducted in 2008 and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry also detected the presence of a “lunasin-like peptide in the protein in amaranth. Lunasin is thought to have cancer-preventive beneﬁts as well as possibly blocking inﬂammation that accompanies several chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke”. The oil extracted from amaranth (grains of amaranth contain more oil – between 5% and 9% – than other grains) may also help lower levels of cholesterol.
The amaranth seed has also great cooking and usage versatility, which means that the high-fibre, gluten-free, protein-packed alternative can easily be incorporated into various aspects of one’s diet – in a smoothie, as an alternative for breakfast cereals and porridges, or as a replacement for pasta, quinoa or rice.
“I get really excited when I hear about foods which are both local and provide a powerhouse of nutrients. Amaranth leaf appears to be one food which is attracting a lot of interest because it is already a part of local diets in many parts of Africa, but more importantly because it contains noteworthy amounts of nutrients like vitamin A precursors (beta- carotene), vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, copper, and protein,” says consulting nutritional therapist, Monica Codevilla.
The amaranth leaves, also known as Chinese spinach, have a similar texture to spinach or Swiss chard but are superior in nutrition to other greens with three times the amount of calcium and Vitamin B3. These super leaves are also high in magnesium, which helps the human body to metabolise food as well as the synthesis of protein and fatty acids, and manganese, which helps support bone density. Unlike other tropical plants, amaranth leaves have a less slimy texture making them a great alternative for salads or a cooked side. The leaves are firm and with a taste leaning on the slightly sweet side and can be boiled, steamed or fried before adding other ingredients or served on their own. If you’re looking to adopt meat-free Monday, give amaranth a go! ML
Want to watch Richard Poplak’s audition for SA’s Got Talent?
Who doesn’t? Alas, it was removed by the host site for prolific swearing*… Now that we’ve got your attention, we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to you about the small matter of book burning and freedom of speech.
Since its release, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, has sparked numerous fascist-like behavior from certain members of the public (and the State). There have been planned book burnings, disrupted launches and Ace Magashule has openly called him a liar. And just to say thanks, a R10m defamation suit has been lodged against the author.
Pieter-Louis Myburgh is our latest Scorpio Investigative journalist recruit and we’re not going to let him and his crucial book be silenced. When the Cape Town launch was postponed, Maverick Insider stepped in and relocated it to a secure location so that Pieter-Louis’ revelations could be heard by the public. If we’ve learnt one thing over the past ten years it is this: when anyone tries to infringe on our constitutional rights, we have to fight back. Every day, our journalists are uncovering more details and evidence of State Capture and its various reincarnations. The rot is deep and the threats, like this recent one to freedom of speech, are real. You can support the cause by becoming an Insider and help free the speech that can make a difference.
*No video of Richard Poplak auditioning for SA’s Got Talent actually exists. Unless it does and we don’t know about it please send it through.