Amaranth has become an important part of my diet since I participated in the Cook! SF detox. Amaranth was cultivated by the Aztecs and in other tropical climates, but is now experiencing a resurgence in popularity as a gluten-free protein. Though amaranth is derived from the fruit a flowering plant, it is often referred to as a grain–so we’ll call it a grain here. Here are reasons to use amaranth grain and even the leaves into your diet.

10 Amaranth Benefits

1. Amaranth Is Gluten-Free

Cook amaranth grain as a hot cereal to eat in the morning (recipe below). Find it as flour and use if for baking. Some even pop it like popcorn and bread fish with it.

2. It Has More Protein Than Other Grains

One cup of amaranth grain has 28.1 grams of protein compared to oats at 26.1. It’s healthier to receive protein from plant-based sources rather than animals, because the latter often comes with fat and cholesterol.

3. Amaranth Provides Essential Lysine

Amaranth has far more lysine, an essential amino acid that the body can’t manufacture, than other grains. Lysine helps metabolize fatty acids into energy, absorb calcium, and even keep the hair on your head in tact.

4. Helps With Hair Loss And Greying

Expanding on the above, eating it helps with hair loss,  juice the leaves and apply it after shampooing. I’ve never done it but people swear it helps moisturize and flatten wirey grey hair.

5. Lowers Cholesterol And Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

Amaranth seeds and oil (found in the seed) have  fiber which contributes to lower cholesterol and risk of constipation. It’s also rich in phytosterols, also known for lowering cholesterol.

6. It’s High In Calcium

Amaranth helps reduce risk of osteoporosis and other calcium deficiencies because it has twice the calcium as milk.

7. Amaranth Is Full Of Antioxidants And Minerals

It’s the only grain to have vitamin C, but it’s high in vitamin E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium which are necessary for overall health. The leaves are high in vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.

8. Works As An Appetite Suppressant

Protein reduces insulin levels in the blood stream and releases a hormone that makes you feel less hungry. Since amaranth is roughly 15% protein, the fact that it aids in weight loss or maintaining weight is one of the health benefits.

9. Improves Eyesight

While I can’t find an article to back this up, some cultures believe that amaranth greens are a natural way to improve eyesight. Eat them as salad or brew them in tea.

10. Amaranth Is Easy To Digest

Amaranth is traditionally given to patients recovering from illness or people coming off of fasts. It’s the mix of amino acids that allows for very easy digestion.

How Does Amaranth Grow?

Amaranth Grain

Amaranth is a gorgeous perennial plant that flowers in the summer. Some species of amaranth get a bad rap for being invasive plants. Some argue that this feature allows us to grow it with ease, therefore, we should be incorporating it more into our diets. It’s hearty and requires little care to grow.

How to Cook Amaranth

Amaranth Benefits

I buy amaranth in bulk at Whole Foods and prepare it in advance for breakfast. Use a 1:3 ratio of amaranth to liquid. The liquid could be water, almond milk, milk or coconut milk in a breakfast dish or prepared differently for a snack or savory meal. All you need to do is measure out the right amount of amaranth and rinse it with water. Drain the water. Put the amaranth in a pot with the liquid and cook on medium until the liquid is absorbed. Have a look at my favorite amaranth breakfast recipe.

Amaranth leaves taste like spinach, but with a stronger flavor. Sprinkle them in salad or use them in a stir fry.

How do you eat amaranth?

Whole Grain Council 101
Discovery Fit & Health

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. Pingback: My Anti-Alzheimer’s, Gluten and Dairy-Free Breakfast | Recipe
  2. Greats facts amaranth! So cool that you are from la jolla! I am launch 5AM in San diego, making amaranth products including cold-pressed amaranth oil.

    Waldemar Juschin

  3. I have to say this, fat is not bad for you and neither is cholesterol. Cholesterol, in fact, is extremely important for your body, it is the precursor to steroid hormones that your body needs to produce. A high carb diet, insulin spiking carbs, tend to lead to heart disease and neurological disorder, which is related to diabetes.

  4. It truly is invasive, the seeds get, spread, and grow everywhere. Not all bad. When the mood strikes, I can always find a few young plants somewhere on my property to toss into the Vitamix with frozen berries or cherries. Thus this invasive habit allows you to forage in your own garden :). Mine has deep maroon leaves and has a sharp taste.

  5. Cholesterol only coats the walls of the arteries and veins because they are so thin and weak due to vitamin C deficiency. It is nature trying to protect us but because many people NEVER get the vitamin C they need, it just goes on lining the thin artery and vein walls with cholesterol until they are clogged up. People with problems with clogged up arteries should take high dose vit C probably they will need lypospheric as too high dose in pure powder will cause the trots!

    Cholesterol is vital for life especially the brain. Babies born who can’t produce it die very quickly.

  6. Great information. I like the way you lay everything out. I have a small amaranth Farm in East County here in El Cajon. I grow several different varieties.