Move over quinoa, amaranth grain has arrived! Actually it arrived thousands of years ago and was an Aztec staple until the Conquistadors banned it because it was also a staple of Aztec religious ceremonies. Lucky for us, one of the amaranth plant’s many assets is that it grows quickly and easily on its own so it’s a plentiful crop today. What really makes amaranth grain a superfood is its incredible nutritional benefits. Florisa Barquera, a doctor and nutritional expert at the Universidad Anáhuac in Mexico City, told National Geographic, “…that amaranth has been recommended by the World Health Organization as a well-balanced food and recommended by NASA for consumption in space missions.”
Need more convincing? Here are 8 reasons why amaranth grain is the new quinoa.
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1. Protein Power Amaranth is an excellent source of plant protein but it’s an even more complete protein than quinoa. It contains lysine and other amino acids that make it almost identical to animal protein.
2. Gluten-Free Grain Although it’s grouped with grains, amaranth is actually a seed. This means it’s totally gluten-free. You can even mill it to make flour for baking.
3. You Can Pop It! Amaranth grain the same way you prepare quinoa but you can also pop it in a frying pan to eat as a crispy snack or dry cereal. It retains its crunch even when cooked giving it a texture similar to caviar if you boil it.
4. Mineral Load This little powerhouse contains even more minerals than most grains. It has around four times the calcium of quinoa as well as plenty of magnesium, zinc and potassium.
5. Disease Fighters The amaranth plant has a peptide called lunasin, which may help prevent cancer, diabetes, inflammation as well as lowering blood pressure. It’s also got phytosterols which help to keep cholesterol levels down.
6. Vitamin C Good news if OJ isn’t your breakfast beverage of choice — amaranth is the only grain that contains vitamin C.
7. Diet-Friendly Amaranth beats quinoa when it comes to weight-loss. Minerals like calcium and magnesium help with appetite control and maintaining blood sugar levels. It’s also got more monounsaturated fats to help you feel full and satisfied.
8. Dulce de Alegria Dulce de Alegria, or amaranth candy, is a popular treat in Mexico. This healthy confection is made with piloncillo or honey and popped amaranth grain. It’s cut into little squares and wrapped in colorful cellophane.